When to contact the Ombudsteam?

The Ombudsteam is there to help you and consult with you regarding a broad range of topics, such as:

  • I’m unhappy with how many tasks (e.g., teaching, admin tasks) I’m being given, but maybe it’s just me? Could I say something, or is this just the way things are at this university?
  • I’d like something different from my supervisor than what they’re currently doing – but what can I ask for? What can I expect from a supervisor?
  • I’m bothered by something my supervisor is doing and would like them to stop, but I’m afraid to make a fuss – how can I handle this situation? What if there’s a conflict?
  • I’m struggling with a situation in my team and I’d just like to talk to someone and get an outside perspective.
  • I feel like I’ve witnessed or been affected by some sort of academic misconduct, but I’m not sure how bad it is and what I should do – e.g., someone’s taken an authorship away from me or someone I know, someone’s put themselves on a paper they did nothing for, any many more.

In short, if there’s anything you’d like to get an external perspective on, anything that’s stressing you out or that you’d just like to talk about, be it conflicts at your workplace, with your colleagues or your supervisor, or anything totally different – that’s what we’re here for. Any member of the Ombudsteam is happy to sit down with you and have a confidential chat, or to consult you via anonymous e-mail if that’s what you prefer.

But what can the Ombudsteam actually do?

We sometimes hear that people are hesitant to contact us, because they feel “it’s not so bad”, or “nothing can be done to fix things”. However hopeless a situation may seem, though – chances are, there’s been a similar situation before and we’ve found a good solution for everyone involved – you just won’t have heard of it because the Ombudsteam is discreet.

Note that the sooner you reach out, the easier it will be to improve a situation, solve a problem or conflict, or even intervene before it has become a big deal – and most importantly, the sooner we can help, not leaving you feel uncomfortable too long. We encourage you to not suffer in silence – you are not alone.

We would thus like to encourage you: do not wait when you feel uncomfortable with something and reach out as soon as possible. We are here for you for exactly one reason – to support you with whatever issue it is you are struggling with – however small or big it may seem (often, in our experience, what seems a small issue that one “doesn’t want to bother others with” in reality are big issues that also concern others – so by bringing them up, you may not only help yourself, but also others in a similar situation). Maintaining a good working climate is a team effort that requires constant questioning and improving – so if you’re struggling with something and you reach out to see how this can be resolved, chances are you’re contributing to an improvement that lots of others will be thankful for as well.

Who can contact the Ombudsteam?

There are no requirements for a first conversation – it is totally ok if you don’t yet know  what you would like to change about your situation, or if you’d like anything beyond a conversation to happen. Even if you may feel that “nothing can be done to change things” anyways – it is very often helpful to voice your concerns and get an external perspective, both so you can just get it off your chest and so the Ombudsteam is aware of factors affecting the work climate.

How does this whole Ombuds-thing work – how do I get in touch and what will happen then?

We have outlined the way the Ombusteam works in the figure below to give you an overview.
To get in touch with the Ombudsteam, you simply have to write an email to one of the five Ombudspeople – whoever you feel most comfortable with. You can either write to their personal e-mail address, contact them via their anonymous Ombuds-address, or even just swing by their office and ask for an appointment if you feel more comfortable with that.

You can ask them questions through email (also anonymously), but we recommend making an appointment to be able to discuss your situation. Depending upon your preference, we will meet in a location that will protect your identity and keep the consultation safe and confidential.  

Note that if you reach out and talk to someone on the Ombudsteam, you are in full control of what happens next. We will never take any actions without your consent. Everything we discuss by default remains confidential, unless you give us your explicit consent to take it beyond the conversation and consulting session we are having!

Every step that may follow from there (see figure) will be discussed then with you, depending on what your preferences are.

First and most important step:
Reach out to anyone of the 5 people from the Ombudsteam- whoever you feel most comfortable talking to. Just write an e-mail. We are happy to hear from you and discuss your situation with you J