42.3 Rules

42.3.1 Independence

The Ombuds Office and the Ombudsperson are independent of other University entities in structure, function and appearance to the highest degree possible within the University.

42.3.1.1 Ideally, the Ombudsperson holds no other position within the University which might compromise independence. If possible, the Ombudsperson holds only one position in the University. If the Ombudsperson holds another position within the University, the different roles are to be kept as separate and distinct as possible. The Ombudsperson provides Ombudsperson services in a location that is different from the location in which the Ombudsperson, in any other role, works, teaches, counsels, etc., to clarify the distinctions between roles and to assure confidentiality.

42.3.1.2 If possible, staff of the Ombuds Office are separate and distinct from university support staff in any other role. If a staff member simultaneously holds another position within the University, the different roles are to be kept as separate and distinct as possible. The Ombuds Office staff may provide Ombuds services only in the Ombuds Office, to maintain the distinctions between roles and to ensure confidentiality of the work of the Ombuds Office.

42.3.1.3 The Ombudsperson exercises sole discretion over whether or how to act regarding a Visitor’s concern, a trend, or concerns of multiple Visitors over time.

42.3.1.4 The Ombudsperson may initiate action on a concern identified through the Ombudsperson’s direct observation.

42.3.1.5 The Ombudsperson has access to all information and all individuals in the University, to the extent permitted by law. If the Ombudsperson considers that University information is needed to fulfil Ombudsperson functions, the Ombudsperson may request access to information related to Visitors' concerns and questions, from files and offices of the University.  The University, subject to relevant Japanese laws, and the University Policies, Rules and Procedures, will share such information as may be appropriate. The Ombudsperson will respect the confidentiality of that information. Where necessary, the Ombudsperson will obtain authorization from the Visitor to access that information. The Ombudsperson will not access information protected as personal or private by law or agreement except with the express written consent of the person(s) to whom that information pertains. Requests by the Ombudsperson for information should be handled with reasonable promptness by University officials and offices.

42.3.1.6 The Ombudsperson has authority to select Ombuds Office staff and manage Ombuds Office budget and operations.

 

42.3.2 Neutrality and Impartiality

The Ombuds Office and the Ombudsperson act in a neutral, impartial, and unaligned way.

42.3.2.1 The Ombudsperson strives for impartiality, fairness and objectivity in the treatment of people and the consideration of issues. The Ombudsperson advocates for fair and equitably administered processes but does not advocate on behalf of any individual within the University

42.3.2.2

The Ombudsperson operates independently of ordinary line and staff structures and has direct access to the University Board of Governors.

42.3.2.3 The Ombudsperson does not report to nor is structurally affiliated with any compliance function of the University.

42.3.2.4 The Ombudsperson serves in no additional role with the University that could compromise the Ombudsperson’s neutrality. The Ombudsperson is not aligned with any formal or informal associations within the University in a way that might create actual or perceived conflicts of interest for the Ombudsperson. The Ombudsperson must have no personal interest or stake in, and incur no gain or loss from, the outcome of any matter brought to the Ombuds Office. In the event such a matter arises, the Ombudsperson must request the President to make an appointment as provided for in 42.2.5. 

42.3.2.5 The Ombudsperson cannot be a member of the University executive or governing boards, promotion or tenure committees, examination or admission committees, or search committees other than those for staff of the Ombuds office.

42.3.2.6 The Ombudsperson, as a neutral party, does not engage in any situation that could create a conflict of interest. The Ombudsperson must not provide Ombudsperson services to people whom the Ombudsperson serves, manages, reports to, teaches, advises, or evaluates, in order to avoid partiality or perceptions of conflict of interest. The Ombudsperson must ensure that alternatives are provided for people whom the Ombudsperson cannot serve as Ombudsperson due to actual or perceived conflicts of interest.

42.3.2.7 The Ombudsperson does not make binding decisions, mandate policies, or formally adjudicate issues for the University.

42.3.2.8 The Ombudsperson does not participate in any formal investigative procedures. Visitors requesting formal investigation are referred to the appropriate offices or person for assistance.

 

42.3.3 Confidentiality

The Ombudsperson holds in strict confidence all communications with and information relating to Visitors seeking assistance and takes all reasonable steps to safeguard confidentiality, including the following:

42.3.3.1 Protection of identity

The Ombudsperson does not reveal, and cannot be required to reveal, the identity of any Visitor contacting the Ombuds Office. The Ombudsperson does not reveal information provided in confidence that could lead to the identification of any Visitor contacting the Ombuds Office, without that Visitor’s express permission.

42.3.3.2 Reports

If the Ombudsperson examines an issue systemically (e.g., provides feedback on trends, issues, policies and practices), the Ombudsperson does so in a way that safeguards the identity of Visitors and others identified in the course of specific matters. The Ombuds Office and Ombudsperson prepare any data and reports in a manner that protects confidentiality.

42.3.3.3 Permission for disclosure

The Ombudsperson takes specific action related to a Visitor’s issue only with the Visitor’s express permission and only to the extent permitted by the Visitor , and even then at the sole discretion of the Ombudsperson, unless such action can be taken in a way that safeguards the identity of the Visitor . The only exception to this confidential treatment is when the Ombudsperson judges that there is risk of imminent serious harm to a person or persons or where there is no other reasonable option.

42.3.3.4 Privilege of communications

Communications between the Ombudsperson and others (made while the Ombudsperson is serving in that capacity) are considered privileged, to the extent permitted by law. The privilege belongs to the Ombudsperson and the Ombuds Office, rather than to any party to an issue. Others cannot waive this privilege. The Ombudsperson does not testify in any formal process inside the University and resists testifying in any formal process outside of the University regarding a Visitor’s contact with the Ombudsperson or confidential information communicated to the Ombudsperson, even if given permission or requested to do so. Accordingly, the Ombudsperson and Ombuds Office staff will not answer questions about people with whom they may have spoken in the course of their duties at the Ombuds Office or disclose to anyone outside of the Ombuds Office a Visitor’s name or specific issue.  The only exception to the foregoing is when the Visitor gives the Ombudsperson express permission to share specific information for the purpose of informal conflict resolution that the Ombudsperson has agreed to attempt. No representative of the University is permitted to request or require the Ombudsperson or staff of the Ombuds Office to disclose confidential communications or to serve as witnesses.

42.3.3.5 Destruction of records

The Ombudsperson keeps no records containing identifying information on behalf of the University. The Ombuds Office does not keep permanent records of confidential communications. The only permanent records kept by the Office are those containing statistical information for analysing trends in order to make recommendations to the University. All other records are regularly destroyed. While matters are pending, the Ombudsperson maintains information (e.g., notes, phone messages, appointment calendars) in a secure location and manner, protected from inspection by others (including management).

42.3.4 Informality and Other Standards

The Ombudsperson, as an informal resource, does not participate in any formal adjudicative or administrative procedure related to concerns brought to their attention.

42.3.4.1 The Ombuds Office is available to all employees and students of the University as a purely voluntary and alternate channel for confidential communication. The Ombudsperson supplements, but does not replace, other formal or informal channels.

42.3.4.2 The Ombudsperson as an informal and off-the-record resource pursues resolution of concerns and looks into procedural irregularities and broader systemic problems when appropriate.

42.3.4.3 Communications made to the Ombudsperson are not disclosed to the University in any form or manner. The Ombudsperson neither acts as agent for, nor accepts notice on behalf of, the University and shall not serve in a position or role that is designated by the University as a place to receive notice on behalf of the University.

 42.3.4.4 If a person wishes to make a complaint, put the University on notice, or make the University formally aware of a problem, the Ombudsperson provides information on how to do so, but cannot be directly involved in those processes.

42.3.5 The Ombuds Office

The University supports the Ombuds Office by providing sufficient resources to operate an independent and effective program. These resources include adequate space, equipment, staffing, staff development, and the production and distribution of informational materials.

42.3.5.1 Location

The Ombuds Office is situated in an appropriate location to protect the privacy of Visitors.

42.3.5.2 Record Keeping Systems and Database

The Ombuds Office recordkeeping system is independent of the University’s Information Technology system, with access allowed only to Ombuds Office personnel.

42.3.5.3 Security of Information

The Ombuds Office is physically secure to protect private information and records. The Ombudsperson takes all reasonable steps to protect the confidentiality of any temporary notes or documents, such as locking file drawers and offices, and exercising extreme vigilance if any notes are carried from one place to another. Information that could identify Visitors is regularly purged following closure of matters. Records that may indicate with whom the Ombuds Office has communicated are available only to the Ombuds Office staff.

42.3.5.4 Outside Legal Counsel

The University provides the Ombudsperson with access to outside legal counsel at the Ombudsperson’s discretion. The purpose of outside legal counsel is to enhance the Ombudsperson’s ability to practice according to the policies, rules and procedures of this Chapter. The Ombudsperson should consider how outside counsel may assist in a variety of situations, including how best to handle any request for information made of the Ombudsperson, or when the Ombudsperson could benefit from consultation with outside counsel regarding how best to establish and operate the office so as to ensure the integrity of function.  The expense of outside counsel is covered by the University and included in the overall budget for the Ombuds Office. The Ombudsperson is not required to inform the University when communicating with or accessing outside counsel. Documentation required for procurement of outside counsel shall not contain any information that violates the confidentiality requirements of this Chapter.  The President has oversight of the total budget for outside legal counsel, but must not unreasonably withhold funds needed to engage outside legal counsel pursuant to this section.

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