Office of the Ombuds
The Office of the Ombuds offers mediation to the UCOP community. In mediation, a neutral third party, the mediator, helps two or more people in conflict to communicate their perspectives and discuss possible resolutions or to reach an understanding or agreement. Mediation is confidential, voluntary, and informal. The mediator does not decide on the outcome but helps the people involved develop their own solutions.
Mediation is a process in which two or more individuals in conflict have a conversation facilitated by a neutral third party (the Ombudsperson), with the intent to reach a greater understanding of the underlying issues and work toward a resolution. It is a voluntary process and requires that both/all participants first meet individually once or twice with an Ombuds. Through these meetings, the mediator learns more about the situation, explains the mediation process, and determines whether mediation is appropriate. If mediation seems appropriate and all people involved agree, mediation is scheduled. Participants may opt-out at any point in this process, and the Ombuds reserves the right not to move forward with mediation if they believe it might not be a helpful next step.
Ultimately the participants have sole discretion over creating and implementing any agreements moving forward. Mediation works best when participants are willing to share their perspectives in a respectful way as well as listen to the other’s perspective.
Managing conflict well is a vital part of a thriving community and is key to effective collaboration, teamwork, and the development of trust. The services below can help the UCOP community approach and manage conflict civilly, respectfully, and appropriately.
Preparing for Mediation
When preparing for a mediation, you may want to consider these questions. You may not have all the answers, and your answers may change during the process, but it is still helpful to consider these questions ahead of time:
- What is the conflict really about for you? How does your view change, if at all, when you think about it from the other party’s point of view?
- Are some of the problems caused by hurt feelings or misunderstandings?
- What issues do you and the other party agree about? What do you disagree about?
- Are there objective standards both parties could agree on that might help resolve to dispute?
- What would you need to feel satisfied with the outcome of the mediation? What do you think the other party needs to feel satisfied?
- How comfortable are you with the risks of not reaching an agreement?
- If you don’t reach an agreement, what is most likely to happen?
How to Approach a Mediation
- Be mindful that you will hear things you disagree with and may be asked difficult questions.
- Try to keep an open mind and be willing to consider various options for resolution.
- Although you may feel the other party is wrong about some things, trying to understand their point of view is helpful.
- Listen carefully to what the other person is saying and look for things you agree about.
- Treat one another with respect
- It is not about winning but rather a satisfactory resolution.
The content above has been adapted from the ABA Dispute Resolution Mediation Guide.
Mediation is governed by California Evidence Code sections 1115-1128, which provides that statements made during mediation are confidential and inadmissible against another party in any subsequent non-criminal proceeding. The UC Merced’s Office of the Ombuds does not maintain copies of mediated agreements between parties. If the parties reach a written agreement, only the parties will receive copies of the final resolution.