What to Expect
Many people only learn about and avail themselves of an ombudsman when they are in immediate need due to an escalating conflict or untenable situation. This often means that our initial meeting occurs after other channels have proved unhelpful. We are accustomed to dealing with people in crisis, explaining what we do and how we can help; your questions are welcomed.
This is how a typical ombudsman case progresses:
- You contact our office to express your concern. We then get in touch via your preferred method of contact to further discuss your situation and possibly set up a face-to-face consultation, either at our office or, if you prefer, an alternate location.
- In our first contact, we explain the ombudsman role and the procedures we follow. We then ask you to share your concern as we listen and ask questions in order to fully understand your perspective. The discussion may end there, with consideration of what remedies or what strategies may be available for resolution of your concern.
- If you would like us to work with you toward further resolution, we may, with your permission, conduct an inquiry into the situation. In doing so, we may consult with others involved in order to get a thorough and well-rounded understanding of the facts underlying the problem and the University policies that govern it.
- We then meet with you to discuss what we have learned. Our findings may resolve your concerns, assist you in reframing them, suggest openings for reconciliation, or lead you to choose other options such as, for example, utilizing other resources at Penn, entering into a facilitated mediation, or pursuing a formal grievance. Our objective is to help clarify and sort through alternatives so that a resolution can be reached that is acceptable to you and the other parties involved.