Promoting Our Profession Through Collaboration

By Christina Sabee, PhD, Employee Ombudsperson, San Francisco State University & Jessica Kuchta-Miller, CO-OP®, JD, Staff Ombudsperson, Washington University in St. Louis

A recent IOA press release about IOA’s participation in the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine’s (NASEM) Action Collaborative on Preventing Sexual Harassment in Higher Education describes an exciting collaboration among 28 founding organizations and more than 50 sponsoring organizations. This initiative focuses on prevention, response, remediation, and evaluation of policies and practices for addressing sexual harassment on college and university campuses. The process of developing this collaborative began with the issuance of a June 2018 report from NASEM that focused on understanding the climate created by the sexual harassment of women on college and university campuses and in which the organizational ombuds role was featured. From there, NASEM hosted a convocation in November of 2018 during which members built on the recommendations from this report and other sources to discuss strategies and share practices that might address this important issue. The Action Collaborative was announced as an idea at this convocation.

Jessica Kuchta-Miller, one of the co-chairs of the IOA’s Government and Policy Committee, was in attendance at the convocation. It was an inspiring event and really highlighted for her the importance of including ombuds in this discussion. The Government and Policy Committee noted the value that IOA participation in these discussions could have and brought the proposal to the Board to make our organizational affiliation official. Jessica notes that being connected to the Action Collaborative is “a way to be at the table to help address and shape these processes, and to really articulate our role as organizational ombuds.”

The Government and Policy Committee will continue to be involved in the Action Collaborative work. Jessica notes it will be important for them to articulate how ombuds are currently involved in responding to sexual harassment, what successes ombuds have had, and what opportunities we have as professionals to continue helping with the response. As organizations learn more about the role of ombuds and their involvement, there may be more organizations opening ombuds offices. The GPC also hopes to put together a resource tool-kit for ombuds responding to sexual harassment.

For members interested in getting involved, learning more, or interested in sharing resources, please visit the IOA Action Collaborative on Preventing Sexual Harassment Discussion Circle in the IOA Member Center, or consider volunteering for our Government and Policy Committee.

Read the Press Release
View Discussion Circle
Learn More About NASEM
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