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MPSA Meeting Ombuds

The Role of the MPSA Meeting Ombuds

The Ombuds plays no role in MPSA’s formal complaint procedure but can offer confidential guidance about what constitutes discrimination or harassment. The Ombuds can explain the options for reporting harassment to the MPSA and can provide information regarding whether other avenues for pursuing such a complaint are available based on the nature of the complaint,  such as state or local government, human rights or law enforcement agencies, the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, or the U.S. Office for Civil Rights. If appropriate and if the complainant requests it, the Ombuds may recommend conciliation. The Ombuds cannot provide legal advice but can offer support and guidance even if no further action is taken.

This consultation is confidential and the details of any a conversation between an MPSA event participant and the MPSA Ombuds will be kept confidential to the extent allowable by law, and will not be reported to any administrator, officer, or committee of the MPSA. However, if in the Ombuds’ sole discretion, the Ombuds determines that the information that the Participant provides involves a serios threat of harm to any individual the Ombuds will make any necessary reporting to protect the individuals from harm. At all times, the role of the Ombuds is entirely independent of any complaint a participant may decide to pursue through the following MPSA complaint procedure. The Ombuds will not keep any written records of complaints or consultations. Ombuds can be reached at or by asking for assistance from conference personnel. In the event that the Ombuds is involved in or has a relationship with any party to the dispute, the Ombuds will be recused after contacting another Ombuds to address the issue.

Contacting the Ombuds

Ombuds can be reached at or by asking for assistance from conference personnel.

Meet the MPSA Meeting Ombuds 

Carol Mershon, Ph.D., is the Hugh S. and Winifred Cumming Chair in Politics at the University of Virginia. She has served as Interim Co-PI / Program Director for UVA CHARGE, the NSF ADVANCE program at UVA, and continues to serve on the UVA CHARGE Internal Advisory Board. A member of the Steering Committee of the Directors of Diversity and Inclusion in UVA Arts & Sciences, Mershon helped spearhead the creation of the pilot UVA Arts & Sciences Faculty Guides program, designed to handle concerns about, e.g., harassment, conflicts of interest, and equity. In her most recent NSF-funded project, with Denise Walsh, Mershon has developed strategies for diversifying leadership and addressing bias in political science and academe more broadly.

International Ombudsman Association Code of Ethics


The International Ombudsman Association (IOA) is dedicated to excellence in the practice of Ombuds work. The IOA Code of Ethics provides a common set of professional ethical principles to which members adhere in their organizational Ombuds practice.

Based on the traditions and values of Ombuds practice, the Code of Ethics reflects a commitment to promote ethical conduct in the performance of the Ombuds role and to maintain the integrity of the Ombuds profession.

The Ombuds shall be truthful and act with integrity, shall foster respect for all members of the organizations they serve, and shall promote procedural fairness in the content and administration of those organizations’ practices, processes, and policies.

Ethical Principles

Independence - The Ombuds is independent in structure, function, and appearance to the highest degree possible within the organization.

Neutrality and Impartiality - The Ombuds, as a designated neutral resource, remains unaligned and impartial. The Ombuds does not engage in any situation which could create a conflict of interest.

Confidentiality - The Ombuds holds all communications with those seeking assistance in strict confidence, and does not disclose confidential communications unless given permission to do so. The only exception to this privilege of confidentiality is where there appears to be imminent risk of serious harm.

Informality - The Ombuds, as an informal resource, does not participate in any formal adjudicative or administrative procedure related to concerns brought to his/her attention.

For more information on the International Ombudsman Association Code of Ethics, please visit:

More information from IOA