December 23, 2010

Washtenaw Community College Opens Ombuds Office

The community college located in Ann Arbor, Michigan has created an Office of the Ombudsman for current and prospective students. According to minutes from the WCC Board of Trustees, the registrar, Larry Aeilts was reassigned to the position effective July 1, 2010.

A website for the office that went online this week explains that the Ombuds is a neutral third party who will:
  • Help informally resolve issues; 
  • Provide coaching to help you resolve the issue yourself
  • Refer you to the proper WCC office to resolve your issue
  • Explain a policy or procedure that’s affecting you so that you better understand your situation
  • Offer information about how you can appeal College decisions
  • Assist you in considering your options
It also makes clear that the Ombuds will not accept notice for the college. (WCC Ombuds; WCC BOT Minutes.)

Update 1/6/11:  A campus newspaper article wrote about the new Ombuds office and said Aeilts had some addition duties.
The ombudsman’s office also reviews cases where students believe their MyWCC account or records have been accessed inappropriately. Students who believe there’s a security problem with their account or records should contact his office immediately, Aeilts said.

Another big portion of the ombudsman’s job involves considering requests for refund exceptions. Students file the requests if it’s too late in the semester to qualify for a regular refund of tuition and fees, but they believe that exceptional circumstances should result in a refund. Most commonly, these situations involve medical issues.

Aeilts also enforces WCC’s policy that bans smoking anywhere on campus. Students who get tickets for smoking from Campus Safety & Security must attend a meeting at the ombudsman’s office to help resolve the matter. Students who receive repeated tickets can be suspended.
(WCC News & Events.)

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