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Our Ethics and Standards of Practice

The Eastern Michigan University Office of the Ombuds, not only adheres to the EMU Mission and Values, but also the Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice for the Ombuds profession as derived from the International Ombuds Association.

We are an independent, informal, confidential, neutral, and impartial office that helps in conflict resolution and support and guidance about institutional policies and procedures.

International Ombuds Association (IOA) Standards of Practice


The Ombudsman is independent in structure, function, and appearance to the highest degree possible within the organization.

  • Are independent of all other organizational entities
  • Holds no other position within the organization which might compromise independence
  • Has access to all information and all individuals in the organization, as permitted by law

Neutral and Impartial

The Ombudsman, as a designated neutral, remains unaligned and impartial. The Ombudsman does not engage in any situation which could create a conflict of interest.

  • Strives for impartiality, fairness and objectivity in the treatment of people and the consideration of issues 
  • Serves no additional role within the organization
  • Does not report or is structurally affiliated with any compliance function of the organization


The Ombudsman holds all communications with those seeking assistance in strict confidence, and does not disclose confidential communications unless given permission to do so. The only exception to this privilege of confidentiality is where there appears to be imminent risk of serious harm.

  • Holds all communication; with those seeking assistance with strict confidentiality and takes all reasonable steps to stay in it.
  • Does not reveal and must not be required to reveal anything about any individual contacting the office.
  • Does not testify in any formal process inside/outside the organization regarding contact with the office or information communicated
  • Communications made to the office are not notice to the organization - the ombudsman neither acts as agent for, nor accepts notice on behalf of the organization.

The Ombudsman, as an informal resource, does not participate in any formal adjudicative or administrative procedure related to concerns brought to his/her attention.

  • Functions on an informal basis: listening, providing and receiving information, identifying, re-framing issues, developing a range of responsible options, and with explicit permission from individuals requesting help- engaging in informal third-party intervention.
  • Does not make binding decisions, mandatory policies, or formally adjudicate issues for the organization.
  • Does not participate in any formal investigative procedures
  • Helps identify trends, issues, and concerns about policies and procedures

(Please refer to the IOA Code of Ethics [PDF] and here for further details about the IOA standards of Practice.)

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