November 12, 2019

Northern Illinois University Erodes Ombuds' Confidentiality

After years of pushing back against university administrators, NIU’s University Ombudsperson Sarah Klaper said that she has been designated as a Clery Reporter. In remarks for the university's Operating Staff Council, Klaper said she is concerned the change will compromise her office’s confidentiality. NIU made the change despite Klaper's explanation that Ombuds does not fit the statutory designation.

She worried that the loss of confidentiality would undermine the reason that her office exists. “People come to my office because they trust my office and they trust I’m not [going to] tell anybody they were there,” Klaper said. “Other than going to counseling or [Employee Assistance Program], where else could you go on campus where the person’s not gonna reveal that you showed up at their office?”

Klaper also delivered annual data about her office activities. (Northern Star.)

Related posts: Northern Illinois University Confirms Commitment to Ombuds Office; Northern Illinois University Names New Ombuds; Northern Illinois University Reviews Ombuds Office; Ombuds Case Numbers Grow at Northern Illinois University; Registration Opens for 2015 Summer Academic Ombuds Meeting; Cal Caucus Sets 2015 Agenda; Registration Opens for 2018 Summer Academic Ombuds Meeting.

1 comment:

  1. One of the realities organizations sometimes fail to understand is that before individuals report they often go through a decision making process in their mind. By providing a confidential, off-the-record space, where individuals can think through their hesitations, questions, and concerns the Ombuds office actually helps people bridge the gap between indecision and action. I don't have a crystal ball but I suspect Northern Illinois will now have less people reporting issues because of the fear of reporting. Ombuds help people manage those fears. Whether organizations agree with it or not there is a general trust issue within organizations and when you impose unnecessary requirements on specific individuals that action doesn't address the root of the problem (trust). I hope they review this decision down the line.

    *As a current IOA Board Director these views are my own and do not necessarily reflect the views of the IOA Board.