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Frequently Asked Questions

What does 'Ombudsperson' mean?

Ombudsperson\Ombudsman is a gender-neutral Swedish term defined in the Oxford Dictionary as

an official appointed to investigate individuals' complaints against public authorities.

It is used world-wide to designate independent, impartial and confidential offices that receive inquiries and complaints from the public.

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What does the Ombudsperson do?

The role of the York University Ombudsperson is to provide an impartial and confidential service to assist current members of York University (students, faculty and staff) who have been unable to resolve their concerns about University authorities’ application of York University policies, procedures and/or practices.

Under special circumstances, the President may refer a matter for review to the Ombudsperson when she/he determines that such review is warranted.

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Who can use the Office?

Current undergraduate and graduate students, faculty and staff members of the University community.

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When may I consult the Ombudsperson?

The Ombudsperson will receive and consider the concern(s) raised when:

(a) the member has availed herself/himself of all usual processes but has not been able to resolve her/his concern because of an alleged unfair or delayed application of such processes; or

(b) the member, for good reason, is unable to follow the usual processes.

In exercising this role, the Ombudsperson will have unrestricted access to all University personnel and may examine the actions or decisions of the York University authority in question in order to determine whether such actions/decisions conform to the University’s stated processes and with procedural fairness.

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What should I expect when consulting the Ombudsperson?

A consultation with the Ombudsperson is confidential. People often receive enough information to solve the problem themselves. You can make inquiries without providing personal information and you can decide what options you want to follow.

The Ombudsperson will:
- listen and help to analyze the concern;
- identify and explain relevant university policies, procedures and practices;
- help define and evaluate options and strategies;
- help resolve problems informally and expeditiously;
- make referrals to other campus and community resources
- on consent of the parties, mediate conflicts;
- on consent of the parties, initiate discussions with other parties involved;
- investigate a problem, complaint, or concern.

If appropriate, the Ombudsperson may, with your permission:
• Talk to someone about your situation
• Assist in resolving the problem informally
• Investigate the situation

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What can the Ombudsperson do about an appeal?

The Office of the Ombudsperson does not replace the appeal process. The Ombudsperson can provide information about appeal procedures and grounds for appeal. She\he can facilitate communication, clarify issues or problem-solve to assist the student in understanding the process and his or her rights and responsibilities. She\he can provide advice on organizing and presenting an appeal, or offer feedback on an appeal letter. The Ombudsperson does not represent students at appeal hearings.

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What about informal options?

The Ombudsperson can assist in resolving issues by facilitating communication and clarifying misunderstandings, by being present at a meeting (other than an appeal hearing), or by mediating, when appropriate. Where students are unclear about steps already taken, decisions made or some other element in their situation, the Ombudsperson can, with the student's permission, contact a member of staff or faculty to clarify information, explore options or problem-solve, if appropriate.

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What do you mean by confidentiality, impartiality and independence?


The terms of reference for the Ombudsperson state that "all dealings with the Office are deemed to be confidential." Confidentiality is important to ensure that people can discuss concerns without fear of repercussions. It will be protected to the full extent of the law. At the discretion of the Ombudsperson, exceptions to confidentiality may occur to address imminent risk of serious harm. The Ombudsperson is an off-the-record resource, and contacting the Office does not constitute legal notice to the University or to the student societies. The Ombudsperson intervenes in individual cases only with the consent of the person.

Impartiality & Independence

The Ombudsperson is independent of York University’s formal administrative structure and all other departments. This ensures that any matters brought to the attention of the Ombudsperson are dealt with in an impartial and confidential manner.

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Is the Ombudsperson an advocate?

The Ombusdperson acts impartially and objectively, neither as an advocate for individuals, nor as a defender of the University, but rather as a seeker of procedural fairness and reasonable outcomes.

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Who does the Ombudsperson report to?

The Ombudsperson reports to the President.

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What kind of authority does the Ombudsperson have?

The Ombudsperson does not have the authority to make or replace policy, and it does not have decision-making power in individual cases. Instead, it can make recommendations to persons in authority. It can bring matters to the attention of the University community.

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Where do I address comments, praises or complaints about the Ombudsperson?

The Ombudsperson reports to the President. Comments, praises and complaints can be addressed to the President, S949 Ross Building, 4700 Keele Street, Toronto, ON, M3J 1P3 or by email:

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