The very nature of the college environment makes it susceptible to issues both inside and outside the classroom. To combat these issues, Mason provides the Office of the Ombudsman.

Located on the third floor of Sub I is the Office of the Ombudsman which serves students as an independent party who assists  them as best as they can in matters that both involve academic and non-academic issues.

Students may have already been visited by the Ombudsman in classes this semester, as they are launching their Civility Project. The project’s focus will be on promoting the core values of civil interactions in diverse community and to help initiate dialogue across campus on civility.

“The role of the Ombudsman at George Mason University has evolved over the last decade,” said Dolores Gomez-Moran, Certified Organizational Ombudsman Practitioner.

She has served for Mason’s Ombudsman’s office for 12 years and has seen the expansion of the responsibilities and outreach to the students grow over the years.

The office itself was originally established at Mason in 1999, when Dolores was initially the Ombudsman for Student Academic Affairs. As a joint effort of the Office of the Provost and University Life, the responsibilities of the department grew to include academic and non-academic issues in 2007, giving real birth to the role of the office.

Gomez-Moran stresses that no visit to the office is the same and there is no set way to handle any issue.

“Each visit to the Office of the Ombudsman is unique and there is no set process duration time,” said Gomez-Moran, “It serves as a neutral, confidential, informal and independent party and is there to advocate for a fair process.”

The office was involved in 206 cases last year alone brought forth by both graduate and undergraduate students who expressed concerns.

“The process varies depending on the action taken for the issue of concern sometimes a case can take just a visit to the office, but other times cases can last for months,” Gomez-Moran said.

The office does make itself as available to students as possible. The office is open during usual business hours Monday through Friday starting at 8:30 until 5:00. They also make special meeting arrangements as well as respond to emails. Students can also call the office at 703-993-3306 to set up an appointment or even request a meeting online through the website.

It is important to remember that the office does not make decisions or solve problems directly for the students, but instead acts as a neutral, confidential, informal and independent resource that advocates for a fair process. Through this, students should be able to explore options and through a fair process situation, find answers and solutions to their issues of concerns.

The Office of the Ombudsman works with any Mason students who have either tried using formal channels at the University and are unsatisfied with their outcome or even just need to vent about the situation and may not want to take further action.