By Scott Strasser, February 5 —
The University of Calgary students’ ombuds office relocated from Education 176 to MacKimmie Library 212 on Jan. 16, marking the fourth time the office has moved in less than two years.
The ombuds office provides students with confidential academic and non-academic counsel from an impartial listener. The office specializes in helping students through the academic appeals process.
Students’ Union vice-president academic Hana Kadri said the ombuds advisory council (OAC) — the board the ombuds office reports to — wanted to make the office more accessible to students.
“[The old space] was in a back corner of the education building. It was inaccessible, there were no signs and there was very little traffic that went by there. There weren’t as many students accessing the office as we’d like to see,” Kadri said.
She said the OAC’s initial plan was to move the office to the Student Success Centre in the Taylor Family Digital Library, but a lack of space forced them to MacKimmie instead.
Duncan McDonald has been the U of C’s ombudsperson since February 2013. He said the old office had several advantages, citing the privacy the education building provided.
“If you look around the campus at other student services and how they’re structured, confidentiality is always a very important value for students who access any office when they are at stressful moments in their lives,” McDonald said.
McDonald worked in EDC 176 for one semester. Before that, the office was based in MacKimmie Library 210 and Administration 166.
McDonald said the longest his office has been in one place was when it was in MacKimmie Library 210, where it stayed for around eight months.
“I was told that was temporary [while they found] a permanent location,” McDonald said.
Kadri said the office has moved for many reasons, but namely because Campus Planning, which manages U of C building locations, decided the office should relocate.
“Unfortunately, the ombuds office has taken the brunt of that,” Kadri said. “Something we need to push for is keeping the office in one place so students aren’t confused where to go.”
Kadri said the ombuds office will remain in MacKimmie 212 for the next few years, unless the office expands.
“There are quite a few steps being taken to make sure students know it’s there and that they understand what the resource is,” Kadri said.
Kadri said the OAC wants to implement an online scheduling system for the ombuds office, similar to the Students’ Success Centre.