January 10, 2008

Texas Tech Ombuds to Help Administer Student Relief Funds

A new program at Texas Tech will provide emergency loans to students in need. The Red Raider Relief Fund was established to help students who are ineligible for assistance through more formal sources. The ombuds for students, Katherine Quilliam, said, "I've been ombudsman since June of 2000, and I discovered very quickly that students that nobody else knew what to do with would often be sent to my office, and the problem is those students were financially destitute." The Student Government Association and Parents Association collaborated to establish the fund, which now has about $5,000 available.

Students seeking assistance will be evaluated by Quilliam, who will ask for permission to share the information with the SGA and Parents Association. Upon approval, a check is written to pay the student's debt. Students who accept a loan will agree to financial counseling and seek any other resource deemed appropriate by the ombudsman. Collection of the repayment will be handled by the Parents Association. (Daily Toreador.)

Related posts: Profile of Texas Tech's Ombuds for Students; Texas Tech Considering Faculty Ombuds.

This is an innovative solution to a problem that plays upon ombuds' empathetic nature. It would be tempting for ombuds to have discretionary funds to dispense to visitors who seem to be falling through the cracks. However, when an ombuds becomes a financial gatekeeper, it imperils their mandate to be neutral and impartial.

1 comment:

  1. Anytime an ombuds assumes a role where they make evaluations on behalf of the organization, it compromises the impartiality of the office, and more imporantly the perception of the office as impartial.

    Jennifer Wolf