May 26, 2015

Are Students Bypassing Ombuds in Favor of Social Media?

A recent article in Inside Higher Ed looked at students' increasing willingness to take complaints public through social websites or media, even before officials can present their own solutions. The article highlighted recent student protests at Hudson County Community College, Kennesaw State University, University of Southern California, of which only Kennesaw has an Ombuds program. (Unfortunately, the author was unable to reach Tim Hedeen at Kennesaw for a comment.)

The article quotes your blogger:
Tom Kosakowski, associate director and ombudsman for the Center for Health Sciences at the UCLA Office of Ombuds Services, said he and other ombudsmen offer a more informal solution to problems within an institution, preventing easily resolved issues from making their way through schools’ formal grievance processes and saving universities both time and money. Kosakowski said students might “go public” rather than seek out his office’s help or wait for an administrative response because students are unsure of where else to go.
“Part of it may be they have a really strong desire to expose wrongdoing, they think it’s the most ethical option to make it known to as many people as possible,” he said. “Or they may think it’s the most effective way to force change in the institution, or if they’ve been unsuccessful with other things they’ve tried.”
Nearly 400 institutions in the U.S. and Canada offer ombudsmen to students, according to a list compiled by Kosakowski, but these officials typically only offer guidance or mediate small disputes, lacking the power to determine outcomes on behalf of their universities.
(Inside Higher Ed.)

Perhaps I was the only one available.

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