Ombuds to Students offers dispute resolution services

Meghan Becker facilitates dispute resolution services from her office. Kenneth Prabhakar | Photographer

By Sarah Wang | Staff Writer

Handling unfair treatments, interpersonal disputes, grading issues and policies and procedures, Ombuds to Students is a service that is little known on campus.

Meghan Becker, director of CARE Team Services, said Ombuds to Students is a small part of CARE Team Services that she offers.

According to its website, Ombuds to Students provides informal, neutral and private dispute resolution for students by assisting in interpersonal misunderstandings and concerns about academic or administrative issues.

Becker said she listens to students, encouraging them to go through appropriate processes and giving them the proper connections.

“Listen, advocate, point them to the right person and then kind of step back,” Becker said.

Becker said she has handled approximately 11 disputes this semester, indicating there is still a need for this service on campus, even though it is not as widely used as her other job responsibilities. She also said the disputes vary, and the majority of cases have been between students and faculty or staff.

“I think the current environment is positive,” Becker said. “I think students are struggling and having a hard time with many other things, but faculty are doing what they can to try and help students in the ever-changing landscape.”

Becker said overall, faculty are doing a great job to support students, even though they may sometimes be unaware of what a student is dealing with.

“I’m happy to help bridge that gap,” Becker said.

Students showed limited knowledge of Ombuds to Students, although they maintained an overall positive view about it.

Spring senior Rachel Brecher said she would recommend the service to students because they may have disagreements with faculty.

“Given the fact that not everyone here is Christian, some students may not agree with the Christian values of the staff members,” Brecher said.

Brecher also said Ombuds to Students offers a more proactive way to handle disputes.

“I can see how that kind of source would be useful for educating and guiding students with how to interact and handle those disputes rather than passively, aggressively writing reviews about them,” Brecher said.

Richmond freshman Chidima Chukwuka said she would do more research on the service before utilizing it, although she said she would definitely turn to the service if she needed it.

“There’s discrepancy between student and faculty,” Chukwuka said. “So having a mediator in between can be helpful.”