Staff Ombuds Office hosts Share-A-Taco Day to increase office awareness

Vinesh Kovelamudi

The Staff Ombuds Office and Division of Housing and Food Service hosted Share-A-Taco Day at the Blanton Museum Faulkner Plaza, where live music and free tacos delighted both staff members and postdoctoral researchers Wednesday.

Through the public event, the Staff Ombuds Office attempted to increase staff members’ awareness of the office. 

The ombuds office aims to assist staff members by providing them an outlet to voice any concerns or difficulties they might have and to provide them with a variety of options to resolve their concerns, according to Jennifer Graf Sims, the first staff ombuds officer at the University. 

“We are a confidential resource for folks to talk to us about any workplace problem,” Sims said. “It could be something as small as your co-worker not saying hello to something big such as a wrongdoing on campus.”

The need for confidentiality has limited outreach efforts, according to Sims. 

“A lot of the work we do is behind closed doors, so we don’t get to go out and interact, so [the event] was a great way to do that and spread the word,” Sims said.

The event received an overwhelming attendance from staff who waited in crowded lines while listening to music played by Jason Molin, digital media manager at the University.

According to staff ombuds officer Jeremy Roye, the invitation to the event drew around 500 responses from staff members, who showed up in full force Wednesday.

Although it is a small office with limited resources, the staff ombuds office was able to get local sponsorships from O’s Campus Cafe and Fuzzy’s Taco Shop for the event, Roye said. 

The office stimulated communication among faculty members by encouraging them to spread kindness by sharing thank-you notes and tacos with other faculty.

“We wanted a way to have others help appreciate staff, build community and hook ‘em with kindness,” Sims said.

The office hopes to be able to continue hosting public events like Share-A-Taco Day in the near future.

“We want to do another kindness event, maybe a taco event,” Roye said. “I’d love to see this turn into an official day in Austin, Share-A-Taco Day.”

Correction: In an earlier version of this article, the group the Staff Ombuds Office assists was misidentified.