UT-San Antonio Students Gain Mediator, Voice in Ombudsman Gonzales · 27 November 2005

Filed under: Press Coverage, Texas

By Brandy Mansfield--UTSA Paisano--11/17/05

Carol Ann Gonzalez is setting the bar as UTSA's first student Ombudsman, a position that few students know about, and even fewer utilize.

Combined with her degrees in marketing and management, Gonzalez has experience with advising and admissions.

This new position, mandated by Student Government Association (SGA), and funded by student service fees, advises students in protesting violated student rights.

Located in the office of vice president for student affairs, Gonzales has worked closely with students since her appointment Sept. 16, by using tactics such as policy knowledge, mediation and student referral.

Gonzalez's main responsibility is to ensure the overall best interest of the students. Students can consult with her concerning almost any administrative problem that might arise.

"I provide avenues for students once they have exhausted all other opportunities using existing channels (for example, meeting with professors, housing directors). I can also simply provide guidance to students, because more often than not, students don't know who to talk to," Gonzalez said.

"I work with students on using constructive conversational skills with whatever problems they may be having, and, when all else fails, I work to create a game plan that will get them closer to their desired outcomes," Gonzalez said.

According to Gonzalez, students should seek her services when looking for information on university rules or regulations, on an effective evaluation of options, on an informative source (and if that fails who to talk to after that), on a mediator for disputing parties.

"The list of the issues I deal with is very broad right now, and almost no two problems are exactly the same." Gonzalez said.

Although Gonzalez's services could be valuable to students who previously had no such outlet, not many are aware of this new position.

"I would like to make myself better known to students and have undergone a series promotional steps." Gonzalez said. "I have spoken with various program directors, as well as students and staff. As it stands right now, I do most of my work with the SGA. But ideally, I would like to create a web site that would answer not only any questions students have about the type of help I can offer, but serve as a resource for the grievance procedure once the Student Bill of Rights is implemented."

Students can contact Gonzalez at 458-4040 or carol.gonzalez@utsa.edu for an appointment. Gonzalez's office is located in the Main Building, room 4.108. Walk-ins are also welcome.