Petition to Reaffirm the Ombuds Charter at the University of Mississippi

Petition to Reaffirm the Ombuds Charter at the University of Mississippi

December 19, 2020
Petition to
Glenn Boyce and
Signatures: 115Next Goal: 200
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Why this petition matters

Started by Reinstate Caffera

Since February of 2017, Paul J. Caffera has served the University of Mississippi community as the University Ombuds. Mr. Caffera has served the University in an exemplary manner for nearly four years, demonstrating independence, confidentiality, and neutrality and has been a force for helping the University of Mississippi live its Creed. He has gone above and beyond the call of duty by tirelessly responding at all hours of the day, on weekends, and on holidays in order to meet the needs of the University of Mississippi community.

On November 19, 2020, Mr. Caffera, filed a Complaint in the Chancery Court of Lafayette County, Mississippi, for the purpose of protecting the confidentiality and independence of the Ombuds Office, and in particular to protect the anonymity of University employees and graduate students who have sought his assistance as Ombuds. The Charter Agreement expressly prohibits Mr. Caffera from disclosing the identity of persons using the Office of Ombuds, as well as any information they provide, except to prevent imminent harm. Further, the Charter Agreement prohibits the Ombuds from testifying or providing records in any “dispute resolution process, grievance process, or investigation” by the University. The actions taken against Mr. Caffera had every appearance of retaliation and violate the very purpose of an Ombuds office.

Mr. Caffera has been completely exonerated of any wrongdoing and has been reinstated as Ombuds for the University of Mississippi effective March 8, 2021:

The Chancellor's announcement, however, omitted the term "confidential" in describing the office of Ombuds.

Without an express guarantee of confidentiality, the office of Ombuds is all but useless, which is why it is the first item listed under "best practices" issued by the International Ombudsman Association. Moreover, numerous documents issued by the Faculty Senate specify the need for confidentiality and for the Ombuds to be placed on a long-term contract commensurate with the rank of someone reporting directing to the Chancellor, certainly in keeping with the term of department chairs and other administrators.

We, the undersigned, are gravely concerned about the omission of the promise of confidentiality in announcing the reinstatement of Paul Caffera as Ombuds, as well as his precarious position on a year-to-year contract.

We call upon the Chancellor of the University of Mississippi, Glenn Boyce to:

• publicly reaffirm the Office of the Ombudsperson Charter Agreement

• immediately place Mr. Caffera on a 4-year renewable contract

• commit to the independence and confidentiality of the Ombuds Office and Mr. Caffera, including the discontinuance of UM’s surveillance of the Ombuds Office’s and Mr. Caffera’s phone logs and email

• accord Mr. Caffera the equivalent status of vice chancellor and increase his salary commensurate with that rank

• ensure there are consequences for any UM employee who has violated the retaliation policy stated in the existing ombuds charter or does so in the future

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Signatures: 115Next Goal: 200
Support now