Integrity, objectivity and fairness. These are the top principles of the newly appointed ombud of Stellenbosch University (SU), whose official commencement of duties is from 1 November.
Advocate Rina Meyer’s role as ombud will be to attend to problems and complaints of students, parents or staff in cases where the University structures are inadequate or unable to provide satisfactory solutions.
“I think my first and most important responsibility in handling concerns will be to listen. You can’t reach a just decision in a dispute unless you listen to both sides of the story.”
Meyer says that people in conflict situations often don’t listen to each other. This is the true reason why matters cannot be resolved peacefully and litigation is used as a last resort.
People are scared of conflict. When a party’s personal emotions are involved, it becomes challenging for that person to listen rationally. Peaceful solutions are jeopardised if not all parties are heard properly. You have to give people a voice. This in itself takes them far towards working out their problems.”
Meyer is looking forward to her term as ombud and is ready to tackle this new challenge.
“SU has bestowed an honour and a huge responsibility on me.”
Meyer holds various degrees from North-West University, the University of Pretoria, the former Randse Afrikaanse Universiteit (now the University of Johannesburg) and the University of South Africa. She obtained her LLB degree at SU.
She started out as a teacher (at high schools in Somerset-West and Randburg) and went on to become state prosecutor, advocate in the High Court, part-time law lecturer at the University of the Western Cape and assessor of the High Court. She has been a member of the Cape Bar since 1994 and specializes in mediation, facilitation and family law.
She takes over from Prof Julian Sonn as SU ombud.