Graduate Ombudsperson

Graduate school isn't easy, but it ought to be a stimulating and rewarding experience. Unfortunately, we do not always live up to these standards: students can find themselves facing difficulties with faculty, administrators, or other students that can seem nearly impossible to cope with.

The campus provides a number of useful resources to help students deal with such problems. If you don't require confidentiality, you can usually start with the Graduate Coordinator, currently Angela Sharma, or the Graduate Vice Chair, currently Rena Zieve.

If you want anonymity, though, a place to begin is the Physics Graduate Ombudsperson, currently, Marusa Bradac. There is also a UC Davis Ombuds Office: http://ombuds.ucdavis.edu, 219-6750. The UC Davis office may be helpful if you are not comfortable discussing your concerns with a physics professor, although the Physics Ombudsperson will have more knowledge of departmental operations and requirements."

The Graduate Ombudsperson provides confidential, informal, independent, and neutral assistance to graduate students who have concerns related to Physics Department policies, conflicts with faculty, staff, or other students, or problems involving any other aspects of their graduate experience. The department is large and complex, and misunderstandings and conflicts can arise easily. The Ombudsperson is available to provide informal assistance, offering information, advice, referrals, and, if requested, intervention to help resolve conflicts and promote fair and equitable treatment.

The Ombudsperson is respectfully impartial with all parties to a conflict. He or she operates independently of the usual administrative authorities. The Ombudsperson may make recommendations for review or change when policies or procedures within the department generate patterns of conflict and concern.

Communications with the Ombudsperson are confidential. They will not be disclosed, within or outside the University, without the student's consent, unless there is a serious threat of harm to the student or others, or unless required by law (for example, where there is reasonable suspicion of child abuse or elder abuse).

The Ombudsperson does not serve as an "office of record" for the University. This means that a student complaint to the Ombudsperson does not start any official action. In particular, if you want to initiate a formal investigation of a complaint, merely talking to the Ombudsperson will not automatically lead to any further action. The Ombudsperson can, however, offer you advice about how to proceed further with a complaint, and can, at your request, talk to others involved in a conflict.