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Sunday, May 19, 2024

Ombuds Office welcomes new director Lauren Bloom

Ombuds Office offers members of UC Davis, UC Davis Health communities a safe, confidential space to navigate conflict

Lauren Bloom was recently appointed as the new director of the UC Davis Ombuds Office. Ombuds is a resource for students, faculty, staff and anyone associated with UC Davis or UC Davis Health to help navigate conflict in an informal and confidential space.

Ombuds has moved into two new offices this year, one located on Third Street and the other in Sacramento, which staff hope will better suit their needs for assisting members of the UC Davis community. 

Dana Hinojosa, the associate ombuds, discussed some of the benefits of going to the Ombuds Office when faced with a conflict — whether it is academic, professional, interpersonal or discriminatory in nature or stems from another point of tension.

“When they don’t know where to go, who to talk to, or are afraid of what might happen if they do talk to someone, our office is a totally safe and informal first step to learn what their options are and how to best move forward,” Hinojosa said via email.

While other centers on campus may be mandatory reporters, the Ombuds Office is a completely confidential, off-the-record resource, even in instances of harassment or discrimination. The office keeps everything totally confidential, except in cases where imminent harm or danger is present. 

The Ombuds Office can assist undergraduate and graduate students, staff, faculty and individuals associated with UC Davis or UC Davis Health, according to the website.

While other centers on campus may be able to more directly provide assistance for individuals experiencing conflict, the Ombuds Office is a place where individuals who are unsure of how to proceed can discuss their options in an informal, confidential setting.

The Ombuds Office “can assist by listening to concerns, clarifying issues, identifying policies and resources, and providing coaching and communication strategies,” according to its website.

“We also are informal,” Bloom said. “We can talk about formal processes, everything from a grade dispute to a discrimination claim, but we stay out of these formal processes. We have working knowledge of them and can send them in the right direction. We can talk about what it might look like, advantages and disadvantages, and then [the people coming to us] themselves can decide how they want to move forward.” 

The Ombuds Office also operates independently of any department or office associated with UC Davis. While the office does compile aggregate trends in terms of types of complaints or amount of complaints filed against certain departments, this is utilized as a tool to implement systemic change. No individual cases are shared or discussed. 

In addition to meeting with individuals one-on-one — the office’s most utilized service — Ombuds’ staff also offer between 40 and 60 trainings on conflict management each year for different departments and offices associated with UC Davis. Mediation sessions, presentations, group conflict resolution, department needs assessments and more individualized sessions are all services provided by Ombuds.

Written by: Ally Russell — campus@theaggie.org


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