Ombuds Frequently Asked Questions

Will my colleague or boss know I’ve contacted you? 
The ombuds will not tell anyone you've contacted the office. Others will learn you've used Ombuds Services only if you tell them, unless you specifically direct the ombuds to tell a person you want us to work with to address your challenge. This also means we don't tell anyone what you've said to us, or how you've said it. The only exception to this is apparent imminent risk of harm and Title IX requirements.

    Renee Smith
    Kimbel Library 210
    By appointment
    Virtual and in-person meetings available.
    John Dooley
    Kimbel Library 210
    Office Hours Tue/Wed/Thurs 8:00-4:30
    Virtual and in-person meetings available.

What’s the first step I take to see if I should work with an ombuds?
Either call the Faculty Ombuds Office at 843-349-2727 or the Staff and Student Ombuds Office at 843-333-6957 to get more information or to schedule an appointment. You are strongly encouraged to call first instead of dropping by, as this is the way we can provide the most privacy and confidentiality for visitors to either ombuds office. Email isn't a secure way to communicate, so you should use it to contact us only when a phone call is difficult to arrange.

How are the ombuds offices different from other offices on campus that address faculty, staff and student concerns?
The ombuds process is informal, and emphasizes developing strategies you can use before you decide it's necessary to use one of Coastal Carolina University's formal administrative processes. We don't make decisions and we don't take disciplinary action, though we can help you decide how to effectively approach these if necessary. Working with us is off the record, which sometimes makes talking about problems a little less intimidating.

What happens when I visit an ombuds office?
We listen to your concerns, help you explore your concerns from additional perspectives, and work with you to identify some strategies to address the things that aren't working well for you. We can help you practice different conversations you'd like to have with others. Sometimes we even act as a neutral party when you ask us to help in that fashion.

What does “ombuds” mean?
You may have heard the following words used to describe services such as ours: ombudsman, ombudsperson, ombud, ombuds. At Coastal Carolina University, we use "ombuds" most often. The ombuds practice was evident hundreds of years ago in various countries including China and Korea. In more recent history, it was the Swedish government that used "ombudsman" to identify formal advocates for citizens. In the United States, there are laws that require some governmental agencies to have ombuds services to help agency users navigate the intricacies of working with the agency and to investigate when something seems to go wrong. Colleges, universities, and corporate ombuds offices use a different ombuds model, the organizational ombuds. This type of ombuds, which is the model at Coastal Carolina University, is an independent and confidential resource that uses informal processes. This type of ombuds is neutral, advocating for fair processes in each situation, rather than supporting specific individuals or groups.

How does the confidentiality work?
Our work with you is strictly off the record unless you specifically ask us to help you work with someone else. We won't talk with anyone about your particular issues, although we do provide periodic reports (the faculty ombuds to the University president and Faculty Senate, and the staff ombuds to the University president and Staff Senate) about trends we see. In these cases, statistics about the kinds of concerns we work with are reported in a general way to protect your anonymity.

Why aren’t you an advocate for me?
An ombuds advocates for fair process rather than individuals or groups in accordance with professional ombuds ethics and standards of practice. A benefit of this approach is that the ombuds might discover–or help you discover–a useful alternative perspective that might have otherwise been missed.

Can I remain anonymous?
Yes. An ombuds will not reveal your identity unless you specifically request it as part of working towards resolution of your concerns.

Can I put the Coastal Carolina University “on notice” by talking to the ombuds?
No, the ombuds offices are not offices of notice. To put the University on notice in a particular situation, you must contact particular staff. An ombuds can refer you to the appropriate office.

I've heard you sometimes act as a third party in difficult conversations. What does that mean?
Have you ever been in a heated discussion with someone and felt they weren't really hearing what you had to say? Or found yourself getting lost as strong emotions in the conversation pushed your hot buttons? If you request it and the other person agrees, an ombuds can sit in on the conversation and work towards its effectiveness, so that each individual is listened to by the other and gets help clarifying important points when necessary.

What kind of records do you keep?
We may make a few notes while we work with you, and if we do, we keep them in a secure location. When we finish working with you, we shred the notes.

What is coaching?
We can help you identify goals that matter to you and help you develop strategies for successfully completing goals you've already defined for yourself. Or maybe you've received some constructive feedback that you've taken to heart and you want to get some help figuring out how to tackle the area.