University begins search for student ombudsperson

The university began the search for a student ombudsperson and hopes to fill the position by this summer. (Kaylie McLaughlin | Collegian Media Group)

As the first part of the 11-step Action Plan for a More Inclusive K-State, the university formed a committee to find a student ombudsperson.

Kansas State has three ombudspersons: one for the Polytechnic campus and two at the Manhattan Campus. However, all three only serve faculty and unclassified professionals, including administrators.

The new ombudsperson will, instead, serve the student body and provide resources, investigate complaints and listen to maladministration accusations.

Tara Coleman, web services librarian and Hale Library associate professor, serves as one of the university’s ombudspeople.

“I am there as an ear, but we are not lawyers and don’t give legal advice,” Coleman said.

Coleman said the student ombudsperson will listen to the problems posed and then present the student with the correct resources. The ombudsperson will address student concerns of equity, harassment and discrimination.

The university hopes fill the position and the student ombudsperson ready to address student concerns as soon as possible.

“It could be later this semester or into the summer,” Bryan Samuel, chief diversity and inclusion officer, said.

Samuel said filling the role will largely depend on the speed of the hiring process. The committee will choose an ombudsperson from applications of people already working at K-State in a faculty, staff or administrative role.

To apply, interested persons can submit a letter of interest accompanied by a resume or CV to Stefan Yates, special assistant to the chief diversity and inclusion officer.

Samuels said hopefully the creation of this role will eliminate the confusion and lack of direction students with concerns face. The ombudsperson will give students knowledge of resources and direct them to the correct departments to address their issues.

The ombudsperson is a confidential source unless they become aware of an issue that requires mandatory reporting. Mandatory reporting pertains to issues where it is required by law or policy that confidentiality be put aside.