Ombudsman handles student concerns

By Lisa Gutierrez

NIU Ombudsman Tim Griffin said his office has been flooded with student concerns lately, but low funding is limiting his powers.

The Office of the Ombudsman is not paid for by student fees, and as the budget and the staff for the office has been cut, the number of clients has gone up.

“My ability to meet concerns is dwindling because of few resources,” Griffin said.

Low funding, he said, is also the reason why so few students know of the benefits of asking the ombudsman for help. This is unfortunate, he said, as the office is able to help so many people with so many different problems.

Griffin said he helps people with various concerns including anything from financial aid problems and grade appeals to sexual harassment and discrimination.

The NIU constitution lists his job qualifications as a “resource person,” but Griffin said he likes to think of himself as a “family practitioner.”

“The diversity of intellectually-stimulating people on this campus is the stuff of life itself,” Griffin said.

He said his job “requires him to be out and about on campus” and if something is going on, it is important for the ombudsman to be there.

Griffin also serves as the chairman of the President’s Task Force on Discrimination and Harassment Based on Sexual Orientation and also an active member of the President’s Commission on the Status of Minorities.

Griffin said any students with concerns or problems can make an appointment by calling 753-1414, which also serves as the discrimination hotline.

The Office of the Ombudsman is located on the 7th floor of the Holmes Student Center.