Ombudsman Act

INTRODUCTION

Universities preserved liberty effectively so long as their administrators and faculty valued freedom and sought to preserve and foster it. Now that the bulk of administrators and faculty have abandoned their commitment to freedom, it has become difficult to restore liberty to the campuses. State policymakers can pass laws declaring the campuses should be free, but they must then figure out how to enforce compliance on unwilling administrators and faculty and prevent their hostile inertia from rendering education reform laws a dead letter.

Our model bill proposes establishing an Ombudsman at each public university, tasked with ensuring compliance with state laws, and given powers to require cooperation and publicize violations. Each Ombudsman will provide an annual, comprehensive report to the Governor and state Legislature that will give them the ability to hold the university accountable. The Ombudsman will also provide a copy of the report to the {Board of Regents} of the {State} public university system, who will describe to state policymakers precisely what disciplinary measures they will take in response to the report. The Ombudsman’s report will also allow state policymakers to hold accountable the {Board of Regents}. The presence of a permanent Ombudsman should increase university compliance with education reform laws.

The Ombudsman’s annual report will be particularly effective if state policymakers have passed the College Finances Act, which will allow them to direct line-item vetos toward the salaries of contumacious personnel.

Our model bill makes the Ombudsman directly responsible to the {Board of Regents} of the {State} public university system. If state policymakers pass into law the School of Intellectual Freedom Act, they should consider housing the Ombudsman within the School of Intellectual Freedom (SIF), and making him responsible to the director of the SIF. Alternately, state policymakers should consider making the Ombudsman directly responsible to the Governor or the state Legislature. Whatever arrangement they choose, it is vital that the Ombudsman not be a member of the activist establishment, and that he remain independent of its authority. State policymakers will need to be vigilant to ensure that the Ombudsman does not become just another non-compliant member of the university.

Our model bill suggests the Ombudsman be made responsible for ensuring compliance with the Syllabus Transparency Act, the Campus Freedoms Act, the Human Nature Act, the Campus Due Process Act, the Campus Intellectual Diversity Actthe Universities Nondiscrimination Act—and the Ombudsman Act itself. State policymakers could adjust his responsibilities as they see fit. They could also choose to establish an Ombudsman’s Office with supporting staff.

We realize that this model bill creates another university bureaucracy. An Ombudsman is an imperfect solution, but we believe it provides the best institutional means available for ensuring that university personnel obey state laws to reform higher education.

MODEL LEGISLATIVE TEXT

Section A [“Ombudsman Powers and Duties”]

  1. The {Board of Regents} of the {State} public university system shall appoint a salaried Ombudsman at each institution of higher education, who will be responsible for ensuring that the institution follows and implements all state laws pertaining to higher education, especially {the Syllabus Transparency Act}, {the Campus Freedoms Act}, {the Human Nature Act}, {the Campus Due Process Act}, {the Campus Intellectual Diversity Act}{the Universities Nondiscrimination Act}, and {the Ombudsman Act}
  2. The Ombudsman shall have the power to hear complaints of noncompliance with state laws pertaining to higher education, especially {the Syllabus Transparency Act}, {the Campus Freedoms Act}, {the Human Nature Act}, {the Campus Due Process Act}, {the Campus Intellectual Diversity Act}the Universities Nondiscrimination Act}, and {the Ombudsman Act}, ensure that such complainants suffer no retaliation, conduct investigations, inspect all university records, resolve complaints, direct university officials to comply with any state law pertaining to higher education, and require and receive the immediate cooperation of all university employees in the pursuit of the Ombudsman’s professional activities.
  3. The Ombudsman shall deliver an annual Report to the Governor, Senate and House, which shall detail all significant developments at the institution of higher education related to the implementation or violation of state laws pertaining to higher education, especially {the Syllabus Transparency Act}, {the Campus Freedoms Act}, {the Human Nature Act}, {the Campus Due Process Act}, {the Campus Intellectual Diversity Act}the Universities Nondiscrimination Act}, and {the Ombudsman Act}. This annual Report shall include an overall evaluation that states whether or not the institution of higher education may be certified as having complied with state laws pertaining to higher education, especially {the Syllabus Transparency Act}, {the Campus Freedoms Act}, {the Human Nature Act}, {the Campus Due Process Act}, {the Campus Intellectual Diversity Act}the Universities Nondiscrimination Act}, and {the Ombudsman Act}. The Ombudsman shall also post this annual Report prominently on the institution’s Internet website. The information posted on the institution’s Internet website must be accessible from the institution’s Internet website home page by use of not more than three links; searchable by keywords and phrases; and accessible to the public without requiring registration or use of a user name, a password, or another user identification.
  4. The {Board of Regents} of the {State} public university system shall certify annually that it has read the Ombudsman’s annual Report, described in Section A, Subsection 3, within 7 days of the delivery of the Report to the Governor, Senate and House, including individual certification of each failure to implement or violation of state laws pertaining to higher education, especially {the Syllabus Transparency Act}, {the Campus Freedoms Act}, {the Human Nature Act}, {the Campus Due Process Act}, {the Campus Intellectual Diversity Act}the Universities Nondiscrimination Act}, and {the Ombudsman Act}.
  5. The {Board of Regents} of the {State} public university system shall deliver an annual Report to the Governor, Senate and House, within 30 days of the delivery of the Ombudsman’s annual Report to the Governor, Senate and House, described in Section A, Subsection 3, describing in detail how it will act to ensure compliance with state laws pertaining to higher education, especially {the Syllabus Transparency Act}, {the Campus Freedoms Act}, {the Human Nature Act}, {the Campus Due Process Act}, {the Campus Intellectual Diversity Act}the Universities Nondiscrimination Act}, and {the Ombudsman Act}, what disciplinary measures it has undertaken and will undertake against anyone under its jurisdiction who has violated these laws, and what measures it will take to ensure that no such violation recurs.

Section B [“Disciplinary Sanctions”]

Each institution of higher education shall implement a range of disciplinary sanctions for anyone under its jurisdiction who substantially interferes with the Ombudsman Act.

Section C [“Public Information”]

Each institution of higher education shall post prominently on its Internet website, and deliver to the {Board of Regents}of the {State} public university system, an annual report of all violations of the Ombudsman Act committed by anyone under its jurisdiction and of all consequent disciplinary sanctions. The information posted on the institution’s Internet website must be accessible from the institution’s Internet website home page by use of not more than three links; searchable by keywords and phrases; and accessible to the public without requiring registration or use of a user name, a password, or another user identification.

Section D [“Severability”]

If any provision of this chapter, or the application of any provision to any person or circumstance, is held to be invalid, the remainder of this chapter and the application of its provisions to any other person or circumstance shall not be affected thereby.

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