While many of the new guidelines are within IOA standards, there are two sections that are clearly incompatible [emphasis added]:
4. The Ombuds Office shall preserve confidentiality of communications with the Ombuds Office, except as otherwise required by law or policy or as specified in these guidelines. If, in the course of its operations, the Ombuds Office becomes aware of information for which disclosure is required by law or policy, then the Ombuds Office shall timely comply with law or policy to provide such disclosure. The Ombuds Office shall immediately report all allegations, reports and communications which potentially involve Title IX matters to the institution’s Title IX Coordinator or which potentially would require Clery Act reporting to the institution official charged with Clery Act reporting. Additionally, the Ombuds Office shall disclose information to the institution, law enforcement, and other appropriate authorities to address an imminent risk of serious harm.
5. The Ombuds Office will include a prominent, easily understood statement on all electronic or written documents, with respect to the limits on confidentiality set forth in #4 above. For electronic documents, this shall include a “click-through” page wherein the user agrees that he or she has read and agrees to the limits on confidentiality. In a situation involving an oral disclosure, the Ombuds Office shall ensure that it provides this information to the person providing the disclosure, and shall document such communication in writing and maintain this in the Ombuds Office files.There are no more details yet regarding the implementation of the new guidelines. (USM Memo re Ombuds.)
Updated 5/16/18 at 2:40 pm, PDT:
There is no indication why USM decided to impose these new guidelines, which will have a significant impact on the existing USM Ombuds, which have all advertised their confidentiality:
- The University of Maryland Ombuds -- "Communications with an Ombuds are confidential and no information or opinion presented to an Ombuds will be passed on to other parties without the express permission of the complainant. Even the fact that the Ombuds has been contacted will not be revealed without authorization."
- The UM Graduate School Ombuds -- "What makes the Ombuds Office unique?Confidentiality. The Office is firmly committed to maintaining the confidentiality of those who use our services The Ombudsperson will not identify you or pass on your confidences to anyone without your permission, except when there appears to be imminent threat of serious harm."
- The UM Baltimore Office of the Ombuds -- "The ombudsperson holds all communications with those seeking assistance in strict confidence and does not disclose confidential communications unless given permission to do so. The only exception to this privilege of confidentiality is where there appears to be imminent risk of serious harm."
- The UM University College Ombuds -- "The ombudsperson holds all communications with those seeking assistance in the strictest confidence allowed by law. The identity of visitors and the substance of concerns raised are not shared without consent. The only exception to maintaining confidentiality occurs in cases where there appears to be imminent risk of serious harm or a threat or possibility of harm to a child or elderly individual and no other reasonable option exists."
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