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San Diego State University

Office of the Ombudsman

Role of the Ombudsman 

At San Diego State University, the Ombudsman: 

  • Listens to your concern.
  • Provides a “safe” place to talk-everything is strictly confidential.
  • Investigates your complaint if you so desire.
  • Gathers information on your behalf.
  • Explains campus policies and procedures, rules and processes.
  • Analyzes your situation and identifies and evaluates options.
  • Refers students to other individuals or offices when appropriate.
  • Acts as a neutral resource between a student and a faculty/staff member, using informal mediation and/or other problem solving techniques.
  • Facilitates communication between and among individuals.
  • Reviews drafts of letters/documents for clarification and effectiveness.
  • Explains the grade appeal process and provides information on formal grievance processes.
  • Recommends policy changes to alleviate chronic problem areas in the University.

At San Diego State University, the Ombudsman does not:

  • Take sides.
  • Change grades or other University policies.
  • Identify individuals without permission, except as required by law.
  • Give legal advice.
  • Take action without your permission.
  • Act as a witness or later testify in a formal grievance or legal proceeding.
  • Fill other University roles which could create conflicts of interest in maintaining his/her neutral position.

Can the Ombudsman give me legal advice?

No.  The Ombudsman can help you identify University procedures and policies, discuss options, and mediate, but cannot give legal advice.

For legal advice we refer students to the Lawyer Referral and Information Service (LRIS) at 800-464-1529, or 619-231-8585.  LRIS will refer you to an attorney who will give you a free 30 minute initial consultation.  For more information, visit their website at:

Does the Ombudsman advocate for students?

No.  An advocate argues on someone else’s behalf.  An ombudsman investigates complaints and mediates fair settlements.  Although the Ombudsman will do everything possible to assist you through the process of resolving an issue you have with the University, the Ombudsman is required to always remain neutral in order to ensure that all parties to an issue feel the conflict can be resolved fairly.

What if the informal process doesn’t work?

If you and the Ombudsman have exhausted all options of achieving a resolution to the conflict at the levels of lower redress, you may wish to file a formal grievance with the Student Grievance Committee (SGC)

This committee is “the court of last resort,” and follows a set of formal procedures.  The SGC does not lend itself to quick solutions, so resolution at a lower level is always more desirable, and must be attempted before the committee will accept a case.  A grievance must be filed before the last day of the semester (excluding summer and winter session) after the semester during which the incident you are grieving occurred.  For example, if you are disputing a grade that you received in Spring 2014, then you must file your grievance before the last day of the Fall 2014 semester. 

Examples of problems brought before the Student Grievance Committee are grade disputes, faculty/staff conduct, administrative policies and procedures, course requirements, and institutional compliance with federal and state nondiscrimination laws.

What if I have a Sexual Harassment or Discrimination complaint?

As with all issues, we will try to resolve the issue at the most informal level appropriate. All complaints regarding discrimination or harassment will be referred to the Office of Employee Relations and Compliance for investigation. For more information, please refer to: Complaints of Unlawful Discrimination and Harassment.

For Title IX concerns, please see the following information: