Free Speech on Campus: What Colleges and Universities Can Do

By Kenneth Cloke,

As I write, it is now the year of the 60th anniversary of the Free Speech Movement (FSM) at U.C. Berkeley, in which I was an active participant (I am at the far right in the photo.)  It is also a time when free speech issues are again triggering campus conflicts, largely because of intense polarization over fighting in Gaza, and the mutually antagonistic activities of student supporters of Israel or Palestine.

Starting in the 1980’s, I began working as a mediator, conflict resolver, and dialogue facilitator, helping thousands of people and hundreds of organizations with vastly differing opinions, many mired in hatred and enmity, discover that they could somehow, unexpectedly, talk to each other, engage in open, honest, constructive dialogue, improve their understanding, and solve common problems.

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ABA Passes Early Dispute Resolution in Support of Ombuds

By Liz Hill

The American Bar Association (ABA) has taken significant steps to enhance the ombuds profession by passing Resolution 500 at its recent Mid-Year Meeting. This resolution encourages the informed and voluntary use of Early Dispute Resolution (EDR), emphasizing its efficiency and cost-effectiveness. Resolution 500 urges lawyers and stakeholders to employ party-directed, non-adjudicative methods such as direct negotiation, mediation, and ombuds services for conflict resolution.

The American Bar Association (ABA) House of Delegates unanimously approved the resolution spearheaded and drafted by ABA Section of Dispute Resolution (ABA DR) EDR Committee’s current and former Co-Chairs Ellie Vilendrer, Felicia Harris Hoss, and Mary Cullen as well as our very own ombuds colleague Meg Willoughby, Co-Chair of the ABA DR Ombuds Committee. 

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50 Possible Questions to Open Israeli-Palestinian Dialogues

By Kenneth Cloke,

Many political conflicts are taking place on campuses and in communities today over the war in Gaza between Israeli and Palestinian supporters.  Here are a few possible opening questions mediators and dialogue facilitators can use to encourage colleges and universities, groups, communities, and people on both sides or in-between to engage in facilitated dialogue and mediated problem solving.  They are suggestive, are likely to work best in small groups, and are only the beginning of a longer term process of discovering how to talk and learn from each other.  For additional questions and techniques, see my chapter on “the art of asking questions” in The Magic in Mediation.  There are thousands of potentially useful questions - please add a few of your own. 

Questions about the Process

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Good Day IOA: CO-OP® Certification updates

Learn about recent collaborations of the IOA and CO-OP® Boards of Directors, an exciting new Ombuds Program Certification proposal, and upcoming changes to the existing individual CO-OP® certification.

Shared Services Canada Special Report on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging

By Alexandre St-Jean (il, he), Ombuds

Office of the Ombuds | Bureau de l’ombuds | Shared Services Canada | Services partagés Canada

In April 2023, SSC Office of the Ombuds presented at the International Ombuds Association Annual Conference in Seattle. Their session entitled: “Being a Change Agent for Diversity and Inclusion Using Data and Change Management Methodology” looked at the experience of equity-seeking employees at SSC.

While the research report was not yet published during the IOA Conference, it is now available! In June 2023, SSC’s Ombuds published their report: “Uncovering the human experiences behind the numbers: Deep dive into diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging at Shared Services Canada”.

They received 1,060 responses to their anonymous questionnaire and heard stories from over 100 employees during their discussion series.

The report highlights positive experiences and inclusive practices. It also shines a light on instances of exclusion, discrimination, and harassment. It provides a well-rounded perspective that goes beyond counting answers and shares the personal stories of individuals who:

• Don’t fit the majority narrative
• Face barriers in a system that wasn’t built for them
• May unfairly be viewed as the problem

The office’s hope is that the report’s findings will serve as a foundation for meaningful dialogue and strategic planning. And ultimately that supports SSC in creating a more inclusive and welcoming work environment.

Trauma-informed Ombudsry During Our Epidemic of Loneliness and Isolation

By Nadia Ferrara, PhD, Co-Chair of the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Accessibility, and Belonging Committee
 
Loneliness, feelings of isolation, anxiety, and depression are on the rise in our communities (OSG 2023). Globally, we are faced with many challenges due to post-pandemic adaptation and recovery, inflation and the rising costs of living, environmental disasters, trauma related to racial violence, and ongoing wars. Many are referring to these experiences as an epidemic. How can we as ombuds help to address this current reality even as we’re navigating this reality personally? How does this affect our work? How do we support more trauma-informed workplaces?
 
As ombuds, we are not therapists or counselors, but we are holders of space where individuals come to share their lived realities. If we are applying a human-centric approach, we are acknowledging the visitor, we provide support, and we empower them to develop options that are meaningful to them. We as ombuds are committed to creating authentic, empathetic, compassionate, and psychologically safe spaces. Such spaces are all the more critical during a heightened period of loneliness and isolation. Everyone can benefit from a space to connect with our shared humanity. As ombuds, we offer the gift of listening, which is priceless. We cannot underestimate the power of listening.
 
We need to learn how best to be trauma-informed and trauma-responsive; how to identify trauma responses and know when to refer our visitors to clinical helping professionals, if warranted. We need to engage in our own self-reflection and self-evaluation, as well as hold space for each other to listen and learn from one another. Being trauma-informed and trauma-responsive benefits our visitors as well as ourselves as ombuds. As an Indigenous traditional knowledge keeper once told me: “Remember that as an ombuds, you are really a helper, one who listens and guides others.” Let’s continue to help others and ourselves by giving hope, as that is the best gift to give during such challenging times.
 
References:

Our Epidemic of Loneliness and Isolation: The U.S. Surgeon General's Advisory on the Healing Effects of Social Connection and Community. Office of the Surgeon General (OSG). Washington (DC): US Department of Health and Human Services, 2023.

Recommended Podcast:

Become an IOA Instructor

IOA’s Professional Development Committee (PDC) has recently revamped our processes for how people apply to instruct IOA courses and webinars. There are three opportunities we are highlighting, and a separate application form for each. Here are the details:
  1. You can apply to teach IOA Foundations of the Organizational Ombuds, which is taught multiple times a year both virtually and in-person. In order to be eligible to teach Foundations, you need to have taken Foundations and to have served as a practicing Ombuds for at least three years. You also need to be currently practicing as an Ombuds to IOA standards and be an IOA member. Foundations instructors are offered $500 for their instruction or they can have access to credits to take another IOA course. To apply to be a Foundations instructor, please visit: Foundations Instructor Form
  2. You can apply to present a Webinar. Webinars are presented virtually from 75 minutes to 3 hours and are recorded and posted to IOA’s Resources page. Instructors can present solo or as a group, and topics can vary. Webinar presenters are volunteering their time and do not receive payment for their presentations, but they are able to engage the entire IOA membership. Webinars are held on the third Thursday of the month at 9 AM Pacific, 12 PM Eastern. When applying, presenters should be prepared to provide the title, abstract, and learning objectives of their proposed webinar. To apply to be a Webinar presenter, please visit: Webinar Proposal Form
  3. You can apply to teach a Core Course in a topic that matters to you and that you have expertise in. Core Courses are virtual courses from 3 to 12 hours (over one day or many). They will be offered live and recorded and posted to IOA’s Resources page. Instructors can present solo or as a group, and each team of Core Course instructors is paid $400 for their instruction. Core Courses do not have to be offered in English or during a time zone that works for North America, so international instructors are encouraged to apply. You can apply to teach a Core Course that has been offered before or propose a completely new course. The application asks for the title, description, outline, and proposed audience of your proposed course. To apply to teach a Core Course, please visit: Core Course Proposal
 
Once you apply for any of these three opportunities, someone from PDC get back to you within 4 to 6 weeks. Applying does not guarantee that your application or your course proposal will be selected. PDC will evaluate each proposal based on current offerings and educational needs identified. Also, please note that you do not have to be a practicing Ombuds to apply to present a webinar or teach a Core Course. Read our FAQs for more information. Please reach out to PDC Co-Chairs Tessa Byer at [email protected] or Ernestine Duncan at [email protected] with any questions. We look forward to scheduling your courses!

Good Day IOA: CO-OP® Updates

Executive Director Ellen Miller and CO-OP® Board President Mollie Berg discuss the CO-OP® certification process and updates for the certification program.

 

New JIOA Article: BELONGING: The Feeling That We “Belong” May Depend in Part on “Affirmations” 

This essay by Mary Rowe describes a poignant concern brought to the ombuds office that helped me to understand how micro-affirmations are a major part of the scaffolding of “belonging.”

About the JIOA

The Journal of the International Ombuds Association (JIOA) is a peer-reviewed online journal for scholarly articles and information relevant to the ombudsman profession. As members of a relatively new profession, we continually strive to understand, define and clarify the role and function of the professional organizational ombuds.

The JIOA will help foster recognition that what we do for our agencies, corporations, colleges, and universities is worthy of study. While we must vigorously protect the confidentiality of our interactions, we can still study and be studied to understand what we do and how we do it; what works well and what doesn't work; what our options are; how social, technical and legal changes may impact us; what the profile and career development of ombudsman professionals might be, and other matters of interest.

The JIOA can facilitate a greater interest in ombudsing, enhance our professional standing, and serve to give us a better understanding of our dynamic roles and the impact on our institutions and agencies. The Journal also will allow IOA members, other ombuds, and other professionals to reach out to their colleagues with their ideas, research findings, theories, and recommendations for best practices and to engage in ongoing discussions of critical issues.

Call for Papers and Panels — The Ombuds: Foundations, Best Practices, and Development

Proposal window: 12 December 2023 - 12 January 2024

The Annual Symposium of the Centre for Informal Dispute Resolution (CIDR) at Saint Paul University — The Ombuds: Foundations, Best Practices, and Development — will be held on 6-7 May 2024, in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada and simultaneously online. The 2024 symposium is organised in collaboration with the Office of the Ombudsperson at the University of Ottawa. This international event will bring together practitioners and researchers in conflict resolution and the ombuds field from many global regions to discuss the evolution of ombuds practice.
The Ombuds role is increasingly crucial amid growing organisational complexities, demands for inclusivity and diversity, and the need for early and more effective conflict mitigation. In an era emphasising fairness, transparency, and ethical conduct, ombuds act as an independent, impartial, and confidential resource in supporting all stakeholders. This event aims to offer meaningful discussions and opportunities for researcher-practitioner collaboration in all ombuds practice areas.

We invite panel and paper proposals in English or French on ombuds practice and related topics in Appropriate Dispute Resolution (ADR). Our goal is to foster collaboration between researchers and practitioners, and to disseminate knowledge on the ombuds role and the value of ADR. Proposals from experienced professionals, new ombuds, other ADR professionals, and university students aspiring to pursue careers in practice are encouraged.

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Good Day IOA: IOA in Europe

IOA Board of Directors held its October board meeting in Europe. Our strategic plan calls on IOA to identify ways to increase the participation and engagement of international members across IOA to bring more inclusion to our programs, leadership, and strategy. Watch as members of the international ombuds community report on this special event.

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From MIT: Mary Rowe’s 50 Years of Service to MIT and the Organizational Ombuds Profession

Mary RoweIt’s been a noteworthy year for Mary P. Rowe, an Adjunct Professor of Negotiation and Conflict Management at the MIT Sloan School of Management and a member of the faculty of the MIT Institute for Work and Employment Research (IWER). February 2023 marked the 50th anniversary of Rowe’s coming to work at MIT as the “Special Assistant to the President and Chancellor for Women and Work”—a role that soon evolved into being an early organizational ombuds, listening to all kinds of workplace concerns, from both men and women, throughout the Institute. Rowe ultimately served for 42 years as an MIT ombuds.

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Holding Space for Ombuds

By Alicia Booker, PhD, IOA President & Ellen Miller, IOA Executive Director

A Special Message to IOA Members

In the spirit of believing we are one humankind, and one global community, we must take time to pause and acknowledge the extreme devastation, pain, suffering, and grief that so many are experiencing in our community, our organizations, and in our world. As we move into the season of holidays and family celebrations, our hearts, and thoughts go to all who are suffering.    

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Fall 2023 Advocacy Update

From Ellen Miller, Executive Director, and Advocacy Committee Co-Chairs Sarah Klaper and Mark Patterson 

More good news for higher ed ombuds based in the U.S. 

IOA was proud to sponsor the Clery Center’s 2023 September Summit, where we had the opportunity to introduce Jim Moore from the U.S. Department of Education and do a speed presentation on the role of ombuds prior to his session. Sarah Klaper “pulled back the curtain” to explain how ombuds handle Title IX and Clery issues, while Ellen Miller covered the basics of what OOs do and don’t do. Here is a link to the short slide deck we prepared.  

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Annual Reporting: Some Inspiration

By Ellen Miller, Executive Director 

The Asian Development Bank’s Office of the Ombudsperson (ADB) issued its 2022 Annual Report in August. The ADB does a wonderful job turning data into stories and does not disappoint with its latest annual report using creative design, an engaging presentation format, and information offered through a variety of lenses. It can be found at www.adb.org/ombudsperson and I encourage you to check it out.  

Many organizations opt to keep the annual report either on the organization’s intranet or confidential and just for the C-Suite. We understand that some organizations may not want recommendations to be public if included in your annual report. I would encourage you to post some kind of summary for public consumption about the kinds of issues you hear from visitors. Nothing demonstrates value more to possible visitors and other formal channels than an annual summary of the impact you made in your organization with stakeholders.  

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George Mason Ombuds Office Anniversary and Ombuds Day Celebration Reflection

By, Sarah Ahmed Atif,
Program Coordinator, George Mason University Ombuds Office

The current George Mason University Ombudsperson, Kimberly Jackson Davidson, was introduced in February 2022, and the Office Charter was signed in October of the same year by University President Gregory Washington. We identify this moment of a signed charter as the official act of launching the Office. This October, completing one year of operations, the Office celebrated its anniversary by hosting various programs for different audiences.

The office hosted an Ombuds Gathering for academic ombuds from the DMV area at the beautiful Potomac Science Center on October 20. This program was an effort to bring the academic ombuds in one room to have a dialogue on events pertaining to the field. Following were the program topics: 

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Catch up on and Contribute to the JIOA

By Shannon Lynn Burton, Ph.D.,
University Ombudsperson, Michigan State University

Dear IOA Colleagues,

The Journal of the International Ombuds Association (JIOA) has been busy this year!  Please visit our website if you have not done so recently.  There are new articles and book reviews posted. 

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Ombuds Day 2023

By Belinda M. Robinson, PhD
Associate Organizational Ombudsman - Federal Bureau of Investigation

For nearly six years, in conjunction with the American Bar Association’s Ombuds Day Committee, the Ombuds community is celebrated, recognized, and congratulated on the second Thursday of October, also known as Ombuds Day. This year, Ombuds Day is celebrated on Thursday, October 12. The theme for 2023 is Ombuds: Diverse in Role. United in Service.

Prior years’ themes have paid homage to the professionals who lead conflict resolution efforts and mediation services for organizations, large and small, and regardless of their internally or externally facing ombuds roles:

  •  2022Ombuds: Resilience, Respect, Resolve
  •  2021Ombuds: Exploring Options to Resolve Conflict Together
  •  2020 and 2019Ombuds: Unusual Name. Important Service

Ombuds practitioners are often described as navigators who provide a beacon of light; giving employees, and often the public, hope that their problems can be resolved fairly and equitably.

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California Travel Ban Lifted

We are thrilled to learn that California has lifted its travel ban, opening the door for those who work for the State of California to attend upcoming IOA conferences. Read more in a recent article from thehill.com.

Newsom signs bill ending California travel ban to states with anti-LGBTQ laws

"A California law banning publicly funded travel to states with laws that discriminate against LGBTQ people is no longer active under legislation signed Wednesday by Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom.

California’s Senate Bill 447, also known as the BRIDGE Project, officially repeals a 2016 law that prohibited the state from sponsoring travel to states with laws in place that discriminate “on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.”

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ABA Dispute Resolution Section - Call for Proposals

The ABA Dispute Resolution Section is now accepting program proposals for our 2024 Spring Conference that will be held April 10–13, 2024, in San Diego, CA. This year’s conference theme is Mastering the Future: Revolutionizing Dispute Resolution in a Dynamic World.

We welcome program proposals from anyone who can enlighten and connect with our anticipated attendees, who include dispute resolution leaders, mediators, arbitrators, ombuds, judges, attorney advocates, court administrators, neutral providers, ADR consumers, and legal educators. The proposal deadline is September 13 at 5 p.m. ET, so now is your chance to bring your program idea to life!

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