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Frequently Asked Questions

Petitions in the Faculty of Arts and Science: A Guide for Students: Frequently Asked Questions

In summary form, the answers to a few common questions:

Is my problem a petitionable matter?

The Faculty offers you two routes of appeal when you have a problem. For matters pertaining to the internal workings of a course during term (e.g., term work, marking of your assignments, complaints about instructors, etc.), you follow the academic route. This starts with your T.A. or instructor, goes from there to the Associate Chair of the department or the Program Director of the program offering the course, and moves on up to the Chair or Vice-Principal, and then to the Dean’s Office, if you wish to pursue it further.

For matters that deal with Faculty rules and regulations, or matters that go beyond the term or your relation with your instructor (e.g. Faculty-scheduled final exams, extensions beyond the course, Late Withdrawal, etc. ), the petition route is the way to proceed. On both kinds of appeal, your college registrar’s office can offer you good advice or a useful perspective on the problem.

What documentation do I need for a petition?

Whatever documentation can verify the facts or assertions in your case. (See the detailed discussions above under Documentation.) The stronger the documentation, the stronger the case.

Medical documentation will only be accepted on the U of T Verification of Student Illness and Injury Form. You will be sent back to the doctor to have the form completed if you do not provide one, so you should print one out before you go.

Other documentation is certainly relevant. The more “professional” the person providing the documentation, the stronger it is, i.e., someone not related to you and bound by professional standards of ethics is in a better position to provide formal documentation than, say, your cousin or your best friend. If you have any questions about what might be useful, consult your college registrar’s office.

Why can't I appear in person to argue my case?

The Faculty deals with over 3500 petitions a year. The only way the Petitions Office can get you an answer in a timely way is to use written materials. Also, the Faculty must document your request and the reason an exception was made for its own records, i.e. “the paper trail.” A letter of 2 pages or less should suit your needs. As a university student, you are supposed to be able to explain yourself using clear; persuasive prose. If your case needs to go on to the Appeals Board for a final resolution, you may appear and speak for yourself if you want.

How long does it take to get a decision?

Again the Faculty receives over 3500 petitions per year. Most are dealt with promptly. Many require some input from a department or professor, and so inquiries have to go out and answers have to come back. The simplest petitions, such as those for missed exams that are accompanied by appropriate documentation, are answered almost immediately. Others take a little longer, but the vast majority are answered in a very timely way. (See the Response Timelines noted above.) The Faculty makes a firm endeavour to deal with all petitions within 90 days of receiving the petition and all documentation from the student. If a response seems to be taking a long time, you can follow up at your college registrar’s office.