Confidentiality: disclaimers and explanation

The ombudsperson strives to maintain confidentiality and respect privacy to the extent permitted by law.

Confidentiality means...

Outside the Ombuds Office, we will not discuss an issue in a way that can identify a person unless we have the permission of the individual to do so.

Exceptions to maintaining confidentiality

The Ombuds Office is subject to certain mandatory disclosures of information shared with us by visitors. We cannot offer visitors the same legal privilege that lawyers or medical providers have with their clients or patients.

Legal and ethical exceptions to confidentiality

There are legal and ethical requirements that the ombudsperson must submit to that may require us to disclose certain kinds of information. Some examples are:

  • statutory violations
  • imminent threats of serious harm to an individual or property
  • harassment
  • commission of a crime

The ombudsperson must also comply with court orders and subpoenas.

Violations of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972

“Title IX” refers to a federal law that “protects people from discrimination based on sex in education programs or activities that receive Federal financial assistance” (US Department of Education).

Application of this law is very broad and will apply to sexually-based assault and sexually-based misconduct, including relationship and dating violence, stalking, harassment and intimidation.

The Ombuds Office is required by law to report all information regarding potential or actual violations of Title IX to designated individuals in the university such as its Title IX coordinators.

Routinely or outside of mandatory disclosure

Outside of these exceptions, we treat all information a visitor shares with us as confidential unless we are given permission to discuss or share it with others outside the Ombuds Office.

About anonymity

The Ombuds Office will respect the anonymity of a visitor who contacts us, but we do not have mechanisms to actively hide the identity of visitors who contact us.

For example:

  • If you call our office, our phones may log the number you are dialing from.
  • If you send an email, the email address you use will be visible to us.
  • If you send a fax, the originating number will be logged by the fax system.

If a visitor wishes to remain anonymous, we will not pursue discovering information beyond what is voluntarily or incidentally disclosed by the visitor and the method of contacting us.

For example, we will not cross-reference a phone number or email address with student records in an attempt to identify a name or ID number.