July 08, 2015

A Day in the Life of a Student Ombuds

Shannon Lynn Burton, the Assistant University Ombudsperson at Michigan State University, shared her typical day as part of an on-going series with the Student Affairs Collective.  She obviously loves her work.

Here's an excerpt:
I have to admit… I adore what I do. Firstly, because it speaks to my nature in seeking social justice. Secondly, because I can work outside the bureaucracy and provide perspective to the institution and its community (I have always liked working behind the scenes). Under that charge, my day can vary in relation to those that I work with. My first visitor in the morning may be a faculty member who has discovered a group of students collaborating on an assignment without his permission and he is seeking advice as to the appropriate manner to address the students. The second visitor who consults is a parent whose son is having difficulty with his diet in the dining halls due to a severe food allergy and needs to see who else he can talk to about it. The next visitor is a student charged with academic misconduct that wishes to appeal it, but wants to know more about the process and what happens next. The final visitor for the day may be an administrator from an academic unit hoping to gain insight into student rights and responsibilities as they implement a new policy in their unit for graduate students. These are only a few examples. Historically, about 80% of visitors deal with academic issues (grade disputes, academic misconduct, etc.) and 20% deal with non-academic issues (financial aid, housing, etc.). And from that, one might suspect that based on those percentages, my busiest times of years mirror the beginnings and ends of semesters, as well as final and midterm exams. However, from just these few examples, you can see that I do a lot of listening, advising, explaining, referring and reviewing.

Her piece is worth reading, especially for anyone considering working in higher ed.  (Student Affairs Collective.)

Related posts: Meet Michagan State University's New OmbudsMichigan State University Ombuds Marks 45 Years.

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