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Student Ombudsperson Services

Purpose

The University established an ombudsperson to assist students with academic and non-academic concerns related to their enrollment in an effort to help them bring closure or resolution to their situation or circumstances.

Role of the Director of Student Ombudsperson Services

The Director of Student Ombudsperson Services provides informal, neutral, independent and confidential problem-solving assistance to registered and former students in a welcoming and safe environment.

Scope of Services

The Director of Student Ombudsperson Services:

  • Helps students through active listening, identifying and reframing issues, exploring possible options and outcomes and following up as appropriate.

  • Conducts an individualized review of a student’s record through use of the University’s student record system to obtain an overview of the student’s enrollment, academic history and program of study.

  • Maintains confidentiality unless there is knowledge of a potential substantial risk or threat of harm to self or others or a potential violation of a law or University policy.

  • Encourages self-advocacy, timely attention to concerns and relevant deadlines, and the development of a personal action plan to aid in the resolution of complaints and issues.

  • Provides information to help students make informed decisions about their enrollment or circumstances and assists them with navigating the University structure and various policies, processes, and procedures.

  • Connects students to University support programs and services including referrals to on-campus subject matter experts and other resources in the community.

  • Communicates with University personnel, offices and departments, with permission from the student, to aid in the resolution of complaints and issues in a timely manner.

  • Serves as a facilitator or informal mediator.

  • Supports the mission, vision and core values of the University, the Roadrunner Creed and student retention efforts.

Operating Principles

To the extent possible, the Director of Student Ombudsperson Services strives to uphold the Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice developed by the International Ombudsman Association when providing services to students.

These operating principles include informality, neutrality, independence and confidentiality.

Informality

  • The use of ombudsperson services by students is voluntary.

  • The ombudsperson serves as an informal resource for students as they decide the best path to move forward with their concerns.

  • The ombudsperson does not participate in formal proceedings and is not part of any formal due process structure.

  • The ombudsperson does not make administrative decisions for the University and does not change or override University policies or appeal, grievance or disciplinary action decisions.

Neutrality

  • The ombudsperson serves in a neutral capacity and does not takes sides when assisting students with complaints and issues.

  • The ombudsperson considers the rights, interests and concerns of all individuals involved and promotes mutual respect and civility.

  • The ombudsperson advocates for fair and equitable processes and procedures.

  • The ombudsperson does not provide legal advice or services.

Independence

  • The ombudsperson functions independently when deciding how to approach a particular issue or concern.

  • The ombudsperson has access to the University student record system and personnel when gathering information about processes and procedures.

  • The ombudsperson compiles anonymous aggregate statistics of recurring concerns, issues or themes and makes recommendations to University leadership for institutional improvements or change.

  • The ombudsperson reports directly to the Senior Vice Provost for Student Affairs and Dean of Students.

Confidentiality

  • The ombudsperson respects the confidentiality and privacy of students when providing services.

  • With permission from the student, the ombudsperson will disclose pertinent information to University personnel to facilitate informal resolution of complaints or issues.

  • Exceptions to maintaining confidentiality include mandatory disclosures of information as required by law or University policy. Typical mandatory disclosures include but are not limited to:

    • Potential violations of a law or University policy.

    • Potential substantial risk or threat of harm to self or others.
      This includes outreach by the University’s Behavioral Intervention Team.

Reporting Pathways

Students have the option of addressing their circumstances by utilizing existing reporting and/or formal grievance channels at the University. Some of these pathways include the following:

How to contact the Director of Student Ombudsperson Services

Director of Student Ombudsperson Services: Carol Gonzalez

Office: Student Union (SU) at the Main Campus, Room 1.02.22 – campus maps

Email: studentombuds@utsa.edu

Phone: (210) 458-4040

  • Appointments can be scheduled at either the Main or Downtown Campus.

Note: If you have a complaint or issue related to your employment at UTSA, you may contact the University Ombuds who provides similar assistance to all student employees, faculty and staff regarding employment related matters.

Academic and Non-Academic Concerns

Student Resources

Annual Reports