The word OMBUDSMAN (om - buds - man) originated in Sweden during the 19th century, where the term applied to a public official appointed to investigate citizens' complaints against governmental agencies. According to one scholar, the term refers to a "person who has an ear to the people."
The purpose of the MIT Ombuds Office is to provide a place for every voice at MIT to be heard and to receive impartial attention without fear of loss of privacy. The MIT Ombuds Office is independent in structure, function, and appearance. MIT Ombuds report to the President. MIT Ombuds and their staff will not answer questions about people with whom they may have spoken, or disclose an individual’s name or specific issue, with anyone outside of the Ombuds Office, unless during the course of their discussions with a visitor, they are given permission to do so for the purpose of informal conflict resolution, and if the Ombuds also agrees to attempt informal resolution. The only exception to this pledge of confidentiality is where the Ombuds determines that there is an imminent risk of serious harm. MIT Ombuds and their staff do not "accept notice" of problems for the Institute; talking with an Ombuds does not constitute "notice" of any claims to MIT.