Graduate Student Ombuds Office
The Graduate Student Ombuds Office provides an informal, impartial, neutral, and confidential environment where Main Campus and Medical Center graduate students can discuss University-related concerns and disputes. The Ombuds officer can listen, help students achieve a greater understanding of the problem and possible solutions, and look for information applicable to the situation. The Ombuds office does not advocate for any individual point of view, and does not participate in any formal grievance process, but works to promote a fair process for all. The function of the Graduate Student Ombuds Officer is to listen thoughtfully and sympathetically to the concerns of graduate students and to assist them in identifying options for addressing their concerns.
Issues and Concerns
A graduate student might bring to our office issues such as:
- Perceived irregularities with academic policies and practices
- Concerns about fairness of process
- Disrespectful or inappropriate behavior
- Interpersonal disputes or conflicts
- Stressful academic/assistantship conditions
The Graduate School Ombuds Office can:
- Listen to graduate student concerns
- Explain policies and their application to specific cases
- Help graduate students identify and consider options for resolving conflicts with colleagues and advisors at the University
- Strategize about a conversation with a colleague or supervisor
- Facilitate a difficult conversation
- Facilitate contact with human resources or dean’s offices
- Refer graduate students to formal complaint or appeal procedures when warranted
- Refer graduate students to other resources available on campus.
The Graduate Student Ombuds Officer assists the visitor in identifying options that might bring resolution to a problem, suggests appropriate referrals, or might offer to mediate in a dispute.
The Ombuds Officer is guided and informed by the Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice of the International Ombudsman Association, and by the principles and policies regarding graduate students’ rights and responsibilities enumerated in the Graduate Student Handbook.
The Ombuds Office will not identify you or any information concerning your visit without your permission, except in certain situations where disclosure is required by law (e.g. a court order, potential risk to self or others, unlawful harassment, etc.). Speaking to the Ombuds Office about a concern does not constitute legal notice to Georgetown University. Anyone wishing to put the University on notice, that is, to make the University formally aware of a particular problem, may contact a supervisor or administrator or invoke formal grievance procedures. The Ombuds Office can provide referral information about who to contact for anyone seeking to use administrative or formal grievance options.
Graduate students may come to the Ombuds Office because they have concerns about their academic environment that they want to discuss in an informal and confidential setting. However, there are a variety of other resources available to graduate students for other issues and needs:
The Graduate School Ombuds Officer cannot become involved in any way in cases of academic evaluation, including grades or examinations such as oral exams and dissertation defenses. In all cases involving academic evaluation, the role of the Ombuds Officer will be limited to explaining policy, and referring the student to a formal appeals process when warranted. The procedures for graduate students with grievances regarding grades and/or termination of a degree are described in the Graduate Bulletin under our Policies section of this site.
Cases in which a graduate student feels that he or she has been discriminated against by a faculty member or university administrator or harassed by a faculty member, university administrator, or colleague should be taken to the Office of Institutional Diversity, Equity and Affirmative Action (http://ideaa.georgetown.edu/).
Compliance and Ethics. Graduate students with concerns about compliance or ethics in their University workplace can consult with the Office of Compliance and Ethics (http://ideaa.georgetown.edu/).
Graduate students with concerns about possible violations of academic integrity should consult the Graduate School Bulletin (available under the Policies section of our website) and talk to a member of the Graduate School staff.
Complaints about serious unprofessional behavior in an academic context on the part of either faculty or academic administrators should be addressed first to the relevant director of graduate studies, program director, or administrative head for informal resolution. Procedures for submitting a formal complaint, if informal resolution is not reached, are described on our Other University Polices page.
International graduate students with concerns about legal issues, especially immigration and visa issues, should contact International Student and Scholar Services in the Office of International Programs (http://oip.georgetown.edu/isss/).
Medical School Students
Medical School students should contact their own student Ombuds Office. Detailed information is available via the Medical School Student Handbook, Appendix E at http://som.georgetown.edu/docs/AppendixE_1.pdf.
Medical students may contact Nancy Harazduk, M.Ed, MSW either in her office: Basic Science Building, Room 305, via phone 202-687-9219 or via email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Law students should contact the Dean of Students at http://www.law.georgetown.edu/odos/.
To schedule an appointment, please call (202) 687-7142.