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The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Office of Student Ombuds Celebrates Ombuds Day with Students at Lauinger Library

The Georgetown Office of the Student Ombuds (OSO) celebrated National Ombuds Day with students Oct. 12 to spread awareness about the confidential academic and personal counseling services they provide. National Ombuds Day occurs on the second Thursday of October and marks a time to celebrate ombuds and improve public awareness about the history and practices of the profession. 

The OSO organized the event for National Ombuds Day inspired by this year’s theme, “Ombuds: Diverse in Role, United in Service.” The event took place outside of Midnight Mug in Lauinger Library (Lau) and offered snacks and beverages as well as time with a therapy dog named Penny. Over 120 students stopped by the event to enjoy snacks and tea, interact with Penny and learn more about the types of services provided by the OSO, according to Daniela Brancaforte, the director of the OSO. 

Georgetown’s OSO, which officially opened in 2022, is a confidential, impartial and voluntary resource where undergraduate and graduate students can discuss university-related questions, concerns and disputes. Ombuds work to promote civility, respect and a sense of belonging among members of the Georgetown community by helping visitors resolve conflicts and disputes, improve communication and better navigate the institutional resources available to them.

Brancaforte said that the event was intended to bring participants together in a casual setting and inform them of what the university’s Ombuds have to offer.   

“I wanted to organize a fun event that would reach as many students as possible and spread the word about the OSO,” Brancaforte wrote to The Hoya.

Brancaforte said the event contributed to the office’s overall mission of fostering a respectful and equitable learning and living environment. 

“An important aspect of well-being is for students to feel that they are part of a community that cares about them,” Brancaforte wrote. “Many people and campus resources at Georgetown contribute to student well-being, and part of my role is to connect students to those resources that they may not be aware of.”

Georgetown University | The Office of the Student Ombuds (OSO), which offers a confidential place for students to express university-related concerns, celebrated National Ombuds Day with students on Oct. 12.

Renée Clark (CAS ’24), a student who has received support from the OSO before, said the ombuds strive to offer a confidential space where students feel comfortable discussing any university-related issue they’re dealing with. 

“I have used the office myself as a student, when an issue got too complex and required some outside brainstorming,” Clark wrote to The Hoya. “The Ombuds knew how to ask the right questions and helped me think about the situation differently without judging me in any way.”

Clark, who now works with the OSO on student outreach, said she encourages more students to take advantage of the services that the Ombuds have to offer. 

“The Office is relatively new in its third year, and I think the word is getting out more and more that it’s a great resource for students,” Clark wrote.

The event at Lau also showcased a book display with books on conflict resolution, effective communication strategies and well-being. 

Beth Marhanka, the head of outreach and engagement at Lau, said the display helped to spread awareness about the OSO. 

“The purpose of the Ombuds Day book display was to inform the Georgetown community about the University Ombuds offices and to share resources in the Library’s collections about conflict resolution, mediation, communication skills, and how to negotiate,” Marhanka wrote to The Hoya. 

The OSO offers custom workshops for students and programs on a variety of topics on conflict resolution and communication strategies. Brancaforte said that the OSO plans to host more workshops and community-building practices in the coming weeks.

“I also do a lot of group work and would like to do more community-building, using restorative practices such as restorative circles, which is helpful for establishing a foundation of understanding when conflicts arise.” 

Marhanka said the university’s Ombuds offer an invaluable source to students. 

“Any profession whose aim is to reduce conflict and minimize stress is truly admirable,” Marhanka said. “There’s no need for students to struggle on their own when we have these wonderful people to turn to for help.”

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