Quest’s administration has selected Karen Elliott, a Squamish City Councilor and business consultant, as Quest’s first ombudsperson. Ombudspersons operate as government and administrative watchdogs who aim to ensure fairness and advocate for individuals. According to the Canadian Ombuds Forum, Quest is the 18th university in Canada to hire an ombudsperson.
Elliott sees the role of the Quest ombudsperson as “being an advocate for fairness on campus. My job is to help people resolve things as informally as possible, rather than having to elevate things to the next level. I’m here hopefully to take the pressure off of things that could resolve with a little bit of attention and time.”
Elliott envisions her role in two parts: “[First], the reactive role, so being available to students, staff and faculty who may feel like they’ve been treated unfairly going through a policy or procedure on campus. [Second], there is a proactive piece here, which is to reach into the community, and talk more about fairness and transparency, and help guide the Quest community in making sure those fundamental principles are always at the forefront when new policy is developed.”
President Peter Englert said that the decision to hire an ombudsperson stemmed from student discussions about human rights that occurred last year. Executive Vice President I-Chant Chiang explained that the faculty also supported hiring an ombudsperson: “The faculty have also been talking about this for a couple of years, going on thinking certainly people have been raising it, and thinking about it, and trying to find what’s the right way to have an established ombuds office here.”
Elliott said that the Quest Ombuds Office will have office hours as well as a website with an intake form up and running soon. In the meantime, she can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (778) 986-8849.