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Discussion about the faculty ombudsman

The Faculty of Architecture strives for a tolerant, safe and fair learning and working environment. For this reason, the new Dean of the FA, Dalibor Hlaváček, has appointed an Equal Opportunities Committee. Currently, this working group is working on the preparation of an ombudsman institute for the FA CTU. A discussion on the topic of the ombudsman will be held as part of the regular Thursday BEER on 5 May at 6 pm in the Archicafé.

The institution of university ombudsmen and ombudswomen is quite common abroad. The agenda and tasks they pursue at different universities may vary to some extent. In the Czech Republic, the Faculty of Arts of Palacký University in Olomouc was the first to introduce the function of a student ombudsman (2014). Currently, the Faculty of Arts of UP even has a male and female ombudsman. Other schools that have established this function are the Faculty of Social Sciences at Charles University, the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Ostrava, the Technical University in Liberec and the Faculty of Film and Television at the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague.

At CTU, in addition to the FA, the Faculty of Civil Engineering and the Faculty of Nuclear Sciences and Physical Engineering are also considering establishing their own ombudsman. "At the FA we would like to set the scope of our activities in such a way that not only students, but also academic staff, male and female employees can turn to the ombudsman," says Dean Dalibor Hlaváček.

An ombudsman (from the Swedish ombud) is a person who is a spokesperson, agent and representative of other persons. This office was created in Sweden in 1713, where the ombudsman was supposed to ensure the proper conduct of royal officials. The first Czech ombudsman was elected by Parliament in 2000.

The FA will have an ombudsman person independent of the faculty leadership. His/her role will be to provide help and support to those who, in his/her opinion, are in a difficult situation, by providing advice, consultation or mediation between the parties to any conflict. He or she will not independently decide on problematic situations that arise; individual faculties and the CTU have their own academic bodies and set procedures for those. "We would like the ombudsman to be able to propose partial systemic changes that could improve the functioning of the faculty, based on an analysis of the suggestions that come to her. We think that not only helping individual people is important, but also systemic monitoring of more general needs or problems, which will provide feedback to the school management, which will then be able to respond in some way," explains Klára Brůhová from the FA Equal Opportunities Committee.

"The role of the ombudsman will be to listen and deal sensitively with any problem. It will not be an omnipotent judge, but someone to whom every student and worker can come with confidence and a sense that no voice will be left out of the faculty. An important part of the ombdusman's work should be to propose systemic changes and prevention and educational activities, i.e. to participate in creating a fair and healthy environment without discrimination and inequalities," adds Filip Chládek from the Architecture Students' Association.

The committee, which includes students of the Bachelor's, Master's and Doctoral programmes (Filip Chládek, Alena Richterová and Šárka Malošíková), academic staff (Hubert Guzik and Klára Brůhová) and an employee (Andrea Vondráková), is currently finalizing a draft legislative document in the form of the Ombudsman's Charter, which will regulate the activities and scope of the Ombudsman's activities. "We will consult the document with the management, at the Academic Senate of the FA CTU and this Thursday we want to present it at a wider public meeting with all interested members of the academic community," adds Klára Brůhová.

If the AS FA CTU supports the intention at its June meeting, interested candidates will be offered the opportunity to apply for the position of ombudsman. At the beginning of the academic year 2022/23 the candidates will be presented and then the election will take place in the FA Academic Senate.

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