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Office of the Weill Cornell Student Ombudsperson

Welcome

The Student Ombudsperson Office offers a safe place where all students at Weill Cornell Medical College and Graduate School of Medical Sciences may discuss problems or issues. Concerns about situations that interfere with work, study or student life may involve a classmate, advisor, or instructor. Issues may be academic related, interpersonal conflicts, and harassment. The Ombudsperson does not take a side in disputes. The Ombudsperson treats all inquiries as confidential, as described in our Ethical Principles below. We assist students in several ways:

  • Listening and discussing concerns, questions, and complaints
  • Provide information on Weill Cornell Medical College policies and practices
  • Provide information on how to make Weill Cornell aware of a particular problem
  • Discuss and assist the student in evaluating available options
  • Refer the student to the proper authority to resolve the situation
  • Assist students to devise ways in which they might resolve problems with others on their own.
  • While maintaining confidentiality, provide feedback to the administration (or others in authority) when a systemic issue or trend occurs

The Ombudsperson assists students in a variety of ways consistent with the WCM mission. Overall, the Ombudsperson is an advocate for fairness and equity.

Ethical Principles:

Independence

The Ombudsperson is independent from traditional medical college and administrative procedures in structure, function, and appearance.

Neutrality and Impartiality

The Ombudsperson, as a designated neutral party, remains unaligned and impartial. The Ombudsperson strives to promote procedural fairness in the content and administration of Weill Cornell's practices, processes, and policies.

Confidentiality

The Ombudsperson holds the identity and all communications with those seeking assistance in strict confidence, and does not disclose confidential communications except as required by law, or where, in the judgment of the Ombudsperson, there appears to be imminent risk of serious harm.

Informality

The Ombudsperson, as an informal resource, does not participate in any formal adjudicative or administrative procedure related to concerns brought to his/her attention. As an informal resource, the Ombudsperson is not authorized to accept notice (formal complaints) for Weill Cornell. Moreover, because the Ombudsperson holds all communications with those seeking assistance in strict confidence, subject to the limited exceptions detailed above, the Ombudsperson will not forward information received in confidence.

Culture of Respect & Fair Process

The Ombudsperson fosters a culture of respect, inclusion, ethical behavior and fair process.

No Involvement with Grading or Academic Feedback

The Ombudsperson will not be involved with grading or providing academic feedback to students.

 

Ombudsperson Authority

The Ombudsperson is appointed by and directly reports to the Dean of the Medical College of Cornell University. He does not make binding decisions, mandate policies, or formally adjudicate issues for Weill Cornell. The Ombudsperson does not participate in any formal investigative or adjudicative procedures. When a formal investigation is requested, the Ombudsperson refers students to the appropriate office or individual. The Ombudsperson does not provide legal advice. The Ombudsperson is not authorized to speak on behalf of Weill Cornell.

Informal Ombudsperson services supplement, but do not replace, formal processes available to the Weill Cornell community.

Receiving Notice for Cornell University

All student communications are "off the record" and do not constitute the filing of an official formal report. The Ombudsperson shall not accept formal complaints for Weill Cornell. If a student wants to be "on the record" about a situation, the Ombudsperson provides information on how the student can make the Weill Cornell aware of a particular problem.

No Retaliation for Using Ombudsperson

All students have the right to freely use the services of the Ombudsperson. Retaliation for exercising this right shall not be tolerated.

Records

The Ombudsperson shall not keep records for his or herself or for the University. The Ombudsperson may keep non-identifiable data such as the number of students who contact his/her office and the broad problem areas for which Ombudsperson services are sought.

Any written or electronic notes related to students are destroyed at regular intervals. Because of confidentiality concerns, the Ombudsperson discourages students from communicating confidential information electronically.

Annual Report

The Ombudsperson shall make an Annual report to the Dean of Weill Cornell Medical College and others as requested. The Annual report communicates only non-identifiable data and overall trends. The Annual report is presented annually to the Dean of Weill Cornell Medical College and others as requested.