FAQ

What is an Ombudsman?

An Ombudsman is an independent, neutral third party who assists students in resolving problems, concerns and complaints through informal means: coaching, negotiation, and mediation.

How do you Pronounce Ombudsman?

Awm- Buhdz- Man

What Does an Ombudsman Do?

An Ombudsman handles complaints (hears and informally addresses problems, concerns and complaints, opens channels of communication, serves as a neutral third party in conflict resolution, and seeks fair and equitable solutions to problems); provides information (maintains resource files on campus policies, procedures, services, and programs, makes referrals to other campus resources); and serves as consultant (suggests approaches for addressing and managing conflicts, collaborates with other campus agencies in issues of general concern, interprets campus policies, and offers recommendations for policy or procedure changes).

What Doesn’t an Ombudsman Do?

The services provided by an Ombudsman do not compromise or replace policies or procedures established under collective bargaining agreements. In addition, the Ombudsman does not provide legal advice or psychological counseling; does not render judgments or make decisions on the issues brought to the office; and does not represent community members or participate in any formal hearings, processes or procedures. The office does not accept notice on behalf of the University.

What Happens When You Go to the Ombudsman Office?

An Ombudsman will provide a comfortable, confidential environment to air your problems, concerns or complaints; listen to your problem, concern or complaint; develop a list of options for resolving your problem, concern or complaint; provide answers to questions you have regarding a policy or procedure.

How is the Ombudsman Different from Other Offices on Campus that Address Student Concerns?

Our process is informal and initiated by the visitors to the office.  We emphasize developing strategies you can use before you decide it’s necessary to use one of USC Aiken’s formal administrative processes. Our Office does not make administrative decisions and does not have authority to change disciplinary action. If you aren’t sure where to take your concern, the Ombudsman is a safe place to start. Working with us is off the record, which sometimes makes talking about problems a little less intimidating.

Can the Ombudsman Give Me Legal Advice?

The Ombudsman will advise you of your rights within USC Aiken’s structure but does not provide legal advice. The ombudsman officers will not testify in any formal judicial or administrative hearing about concerns brought to their attention.

How is the Office of the Ombudsman Informal?

Use of the office is voluntary. The office is not a replacement or substitute for formal grievance, investigative and appeal processes provided by the university. Conversations with an ombudsman are confidential and considered off the record. The office intervenes when requested, to assist parties in finding a resolution when privacy, discretion, and promptness are desired.

What if a Matter is Brought to the Attention of the Office of the Ombudsman and it Cannot be Resolved Informally?

The office will refer the visitor to an appropriate office.

Is the Office of the Ombudsman an Advocate for Those Who Use the Office?

No. The office does not take sides. An ombudsman is a designated neutral. The office advocates for a fair process. A benefit of this approach is that the ombudsman might discover—or help you discover—a useful alternative perspective that might have otherwise have been missed.

If the Ombudsman is Not an Official Advocate in a Process, How are They Titled a "Student Success Advocate"?

The Ombudsman is a person that students can always count on when they aren’t sure where to turn and to help empower them to meaningfully engage within their learning communities. The Ombudsman serves as a guide to assist you on your collegiate journey.

How Can I Be Sure that My Contact with the Office of the Ombudsman is Confidential?

Confidentiality is the foundation of the office and is a fundamental principle in our professional Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice. As a visitor to the office, you can expect that conversations with an ombudsman are confidential and off the record. The exceptions to confidentiality are disclosures of child or elder abuse and imminent risk of serious harm to self or the general public.

How Can the Ombudsman Remain Neutral While They are University Employees?

The ombudsman are independent of all other offices on campus when they are serving in their role as an ombudsman. While the Office of the Ombudsman is a University department that reports to the Chancellor, the office remains free from university interference when working to resolve your concern. They do not report information gained from individual visitors, though they do discuss trends they observe on campus (while being careful to protect confidentiality). The ombudsman are neutral and help everyone involved find a fair resolution. 

What is Coaching?

We can help you identify goals that matter to you, such as learning a new skill, and help you develop strategies for successfully completing goals you’ve already defined for yourself. Or maybe you’ve received some constructive feedback that you’ve taken to heart and you want to get some help figuring out how to tackle the area. For example, perhaps you find yourself communicating defensively and want help to improve your communication style. We can help you figure out how to move forward.

What is Mediation?

Mediation is a voluntary, informal and confidential process in which trained, neutral mediators facilitate a conversation between disputing parties to assist them in finding common ground and a long term agreement to resolve the dispute

Contact Information

The Ombudsman for USC Aiken is Brittney D. Alls.

Her office is located in SAC 105 by the Health Clinic.

Ombudsman Walk In Hours (Fall 2018)

Monday: 9:00am - 12:00pm

Tuesday: Appointment Only

Wednesday:9:00am - 12:00pm

Thursday: 12:00pm - 2:00pm

Friday: Appointment only

Please contact the USC Aiken Office of the Ombudsman at 803-641-3747 if we might be of assistance. In case you reach voicemail, please let us know when we might reach you. We seek to return calls within 24 business hours.

Students may also contact the Office of the Ombudsman by filling out the form below. Please be mindful that email should not be considered completely confidential. Please do not include sensitive or confidential information. 

We look forward to serving you!

Ombuds Intake Form

471 University Parkway · Aiken, South Carolina 29801 · 803-648-6851 · www.usca.edu

The University of South Carolina Website · www.sc.edu