Why is there an Ombudsman (om – budz-man)?
The idea of the OMBUDSMAN services is believed to have ancient and multicultural antecedents. However, the term Ombudsmannen, meaning representative, originated in Sweden where it was first used for a trusted intermediary who worked to improve governance and assisted individuals and groups to address issues and/or concerns. Although the Swedish term Ombudsmannen is said to be etymologically gender nuetral, it’s usage in the English language has different variations including “Ombudsman”, “Ombudsperson”, “Ombudswoman”, and “Ombuds”. We accept all different variations of the term.
According to the Forum of Canadian Ombudsman, an Ombudsman assists with the fair and expeditious resolution of complaints in an impartial, confidential, and independent manner.
About the Office of the Ombudsman
The Office of the Ombudsman at Algonquin College was established in 1979 and serves all three campuses (Ottawa, Perth and Pembroke), including students taking online courses. The office continues to build on the goodwill, credibility and trust established by previous Ombudsman George E. Anderson and Hervé R. Depow. The purpose of the office is to provide an independent, impartial, and confidential process through which students may pursue the resolution of any college-related concern. The office provides a safe forum to informally voice concerns; serves as a safe space to seek advice and assistance in resolving disagreements and explore different options; and provides opportunities for people to learn more about effective ways of managing and communicating in a conflict situation.
The Ombudsman has the mandate to:
1. Investigate, at the absolute discretion of the Ombudsman, any student(s) complaint about aspects of student life, including:
a) Academic matters;
b) Services provided by the College or the Students’ Association;
c) The operations of the College or Students’ Association
d) The treatment received from other students;
e) The treatment received from staff.
2. To provide information to students on College policies and procedures, the rights and responsibilities of students in College situations, and advice on where and to whom complaints and inquiries are to be appropriately directed.
The Office of the Ombudsman is funded equally by Algonquin College and the Algonquin College Students’ Association, without any compromise of the Ombudsman autonomy. The use of our services is voluntary and free to any member of the Algonquin College community.
The Ombudsman takes all reasonable steps to ensure that confidential discussions, complaints, findings and recommendations are secured and accessible only to the Office of the Ombudsman. Neither Algonquin College nor the Algonquin College Students’ Association may access information or files held by the Office of the Ombudsman. However, the Ombudsman shall not be required to maintain confidentiality in cases involving the commission of a crime or where there is eminent risk of physical harm or abuse.
The Ombudsman does not advocate for either side of the parties involved in a conflict/disagreement. Rather, he advocates for fairness for all parties involved. Furthermore, the Ombudsman does not replace existing channels of complaints or appeals, but serves as a supplement to existing resources within the College. By using informal processes, we move away from simply assigning blame and seek resolutions and reasonable outcomes that serves the interest of all parties and also enriches the educational experience at Algonquin College.
The Office of the Ombudsman does not:
• Provide legal advice or psychological counselling
• Testify or represent anyone in any formal judicial or administrative hearings
• Accept formal complaints or notice for Algonquin College or Algonquin College Students’ Association
Our office is located at the Ottawa campus (Student Commons Building – E112). Periodic visits are made to the Perth and Pembroke campuses and arrangements for confidential meetings at other locations will be made when warranted.
You can visit the Ombudsman during our office hours:
Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. & 1:00 – 4:30 p.m. (excluding statutory holidays) or by appointment after-hours, if necessary.