The following sections will help you understand petitions and appeals, the petitions process, the Faculty of Arts & Science’s expectations of you, and the reasoning behind the answers students get in response to their different requests. It is informal and unofficial; you will find the official rules, regulations and the formal articulation of Faculty policy in the Calendar in printed text or on the Faculty website (see Degree Requirements, Rules and Regulations, and Sessional Dates). We recommend that you refer to this website in addition to the Arts & Science Academic Calendar and follow any advice from your college registrar's office and departmental offices.
Rules – and Exceptions to Rules
The Faculty of Arts & Science is governed by a series of rules and regulations that are intended to ensure that all students in the Faculty are treated equitably and fairly. The Faculty acknowledges, however, that in some instances there are valid reasons why students should be granted an exception from these rules. In considering petitions, the Faculty is sensitive to the needs of students who are experiencing problems that are beyond their power to foresee or control, but may not always be able to grant the remedy requested.
A petition is a student’s formal request for an exception to the normal rules and regulations of the Faculty of Arts & Science. You make such a request by writing a letter stating your request, explaining the reasons that support it, and attaching any relevant documentation. You then fill out a petition form and submit it with your letter and documents to your college registrar’s office, which forwards it to the Faculty’s Petitions Office.
All Faculty of Arts & Science students submit petitions about any courses they are taking – including ones at UTM or UTSC or in other faculties – through their own college. Students from UTM and UTSC, other faculties, and graduate students are governed by the rules and procedures of their home faculty or department, even if their petition concerns an Arts & Science course.
If you think you need to petition or if you are having problems that interfere significantly with your academic work, your best source of advice and support is the advisors at your college registrar’s office. They are familiar with how things work, have experience helping students through their problems, and are able to take your whole experience as a student into account in advising you, including any personal or medical problems, financial issues, and academic difficulties you may have. Students with disability issues should consult Accessibility Services in conjunction with their college registrar’s office.
You can also reach out to the Office of the Faculty Registrar directly, either in person at room 1006 in the Sidney Smith building (100 St. George Street) or through firstname.lastname@example.org.
Frequently Asked Questions
The Faculty offers you two kinds of appeals when you have a problem. For matters pertaining to the internal workings of a course during the term (e.g., term work, marking of your assignments, complaints about instructors, etc.), you follow the route of an “academic appeal”. This starts with talking to your T.A. or instructor about the problem. If you feel the result is not satisfactory, you can then ask the Associate Chair of the department or the Program Director of the program offering the course to consider the matter. From there, a concern can be forwarded to the department or program Chair or Vice-Principal, or even ultimately to the Dean’s Office. If you wish to pursue this kind of appeal, you need to act promptly at every level; please talk to your College Registrar’s Office for more details.
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 last day of the course, Late Withdrawal, etc.), a petition is the way to proceed.
The most common petitions that exist are: deferring or re-deferring a final exam; asking to re-write a final exam (when you have fallen ill during an exam and need to stop writing); a term work extension beyond five days after the end of the term; late withdrawal without academic penalty; and a lift or early return from suspension. If you have an issue none of these seem to apply to, please do contact your College Registrar’s Office for some guidance.
Whatever documentation can verify the facts or assertions in your case. The stronger the documentation, the stronger the petition.
The best medical documentation is usually a completed U of T Verification of Student Illness and Injury Form. If you do not use this form, then whatever paperwork you do submit really should include the same information. The stronger the documentation, the stronger the petition.
Other documentation is certainly relevant – but what might help depends on the petition you are submitting, so it may be good to get advice from your College Registrar’s Office or at the Office of the Faculty Registrar. You can also use the Non-Medical Documentation Form for any non-medical support that you are able to obtain. Your friends and family can fill in the Non-Medical Documentation, but to make it more objective, ask someone who is not as close to you to help with the documentation.
The Faculty deals with over 3500 petitions a year. The only way the petitions team can get you an answer in a timely way is to use written materials. Also, this ensures we have a formal document indicated your request and the basis of your petition for our records. This makes your personal statement quite important, so take the time to make sure you put in all the relevant detail you can, and don’t hesitate to seek help from your College Registrar’s Office if you are not sure what to include.
If your case needs to go on to the Appeals Board for a final resolution, you may (and are encouraged to) appear in person.
Our petitions staff work very hard to move quickly on all petitions, and normally in the order they arrive, but 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 often within days. Others take a little longer, but the vast majority are answered in a very timely way. The Faculty is committed to rendering decision on all petitions within 3 to 6 weeks of receiving the petition and all documentation from the student. If the response is taking more than this, you can and should follow up with your College Registrar’s Office or by visiting the Office of the Faculty Registrar, room 1006, Sidney Smith Hall.