By and large, the resolution presents a compelling argument for the creation of a typical University Ombuds. For example:
WHEREAS, each University of Hawaii campus has established academic grievance policies and procedures that also focus primarily on discrimination and academic concerns; andThe legislators therefore urge university administrators to immediately create a robust Ombuds program:
WHEREAS, an institutional exclusion of workplace concerns not relating to discrimination exists, in policy and organizationally, which fosters an environment in which problems may go unheard, untracked, and unresolved; and
WHEREAS, ombuds offices provide an easy first point of contact for a person with concerns or a misunderstanding of policies, as well as directing someone to an appropriate office or assisting them with following established procedures and timelines for complaints; and
WHEREAS, ombuds offices provide university chancellors and presidents unbiased, routine feedback regarding the university community's adherence to established policies; and
WHEREAS, eighty percent of "research one" universities have an ombuds office, and all but one of the University of Hawaii at Manoa's peer institutions have ombuds offices; and
WHEREAS, legislation was introduced during the Regular Session of 2015 that sought to establish an office of the ombuds at the University of Hawaii, and support for the legislation indicates a growing desire for the establishment of ombuds offices on every campus; and
WHEREAS, a system of ombuds offices can be established without duplicating or undermining preexisting resolution procedures; and
WHEREAS, ombuds offices must be independent, impartial, and confidential in order to best serve students, staff, and faculty....
BE IT RESOLVED ... that the ombuds office report directly to the chancellors of each campus and the president of the University of Hawaii; andThere is one significant and perplexing item in the bill: It specifically references USOA standards rather than those from IOA.
* * *BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the ombuds office or offices be adequately resourced and financed as part of the University's base budget to ensure permanence; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Board of Regents seek feedback from each college campus to determine the composition and establishment of ombuds personnel and offices; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that, because changes affecting the University's budget take time, the Board of Regents may appoint interim officials to act in the capacity of ombudspersons but interim appointments should be no longer than one calendar year....
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Board of Regents use the United States Ombudsman Association's published standards as a guide to establishing the ombuds office or offices.The bill has not been referred to committee or submitted for a vote. (Hawaii State Legislature Bill Status, SR 38.)
Virtually all of the college and university Ombuds in the U.S. practice to standards promulgated by the International Ombudsman Association. Most explicitly reference these standards in their materials. The first three Ombuds at UH were active members of IOA. The reference to USOA must have been deliberate. The question is why?
Related posts: University of Hawaii Issues First Annual Report; Budget Cuts Force Closure of University of Hawaii Ombuds Office; Is the University of Hawai'i Planning to Reopen its Ombuds Offfice?; Hawaii Legislature Takes Up Bill to Reestablish Ombuds Office at University of Hawai'i; University of Hawai'i Chancellor to Hire Ombuds 'Soon'; Students at University of Hawai'i Back Return of Ombuds Office.