Senate Committee on Student Petitions

Committee Bylaws

Revised and approved by Senate: October 9, 2013

1. The Committee on Student Petitions (“Committee”) shall consist of six faculty members and five students (three undergraduates and two graduate students), all of whom must be members of Senate. The voting members of the Committee shall elect a chair and vice-chair from among the membership of the committee each year. Normally, chairs will be elected for a two year term but may be re-elected for additional terms. Only tenured faculty members are eligible for election as Chair. The Governance & Judicial Officer (University Secretariat) and a representative from the Office of Registrarial Services (Enrollment Services), the Office of Graduate Studies, or the Human Rights and Equity Office (as appropriate), shall act as resources to the committee.

2. Members of the Committee shall not simultaneously hold membership on the Academic Review Sub-committee or Admissions Sub-committee of a Program Committee or on the Admissions & Progress Sub-committee whose responsibilities include the receiving and reviewing of grades or the decisions on the progression or readmission of individual students.

3. If neither the Chair nor Vice Chair is available for a particular hearing, the Chair may designate a current member of the Committee to be acting chair for the hearing.

4. The Committee shall: 

 a) Hold meetings for the purpose of discussing issues related to the functioning of the Committee.  Meetings held pursuant to this section shall be conducted according to the bylaws and rules of order for Senate and the Standing Committees.  Consistent with the bylaws of Senate, quorum for such meetings is one-third of the voting membership.

 b) Conduct hearings for the purpose of adjudicating student petitions on matters falling within its jurisdiction. Hearings conducted pursuant to this section shall follow the procedures set out in these bylaws and be conducted in accordance with the rules of procedural fairness. Subject to these bylaws, the Committee has the authority to establish additional procedures for the conduct of hearings within its jurisdiction. Quorum for a petition hearing shall consist of three voting members and shall include the Chair or Vice Chair (or chair-designate); and at least one faculty member, and one student member.

5. When deemed necessary by the Chair, in order to satisfy the requirements of composition and quorum for a petition hearing, additional members may be co-opted by the Chair from amongst former members of the Petitions Committee or current or former members of the Judicial Committee. Co-opted members may not chair hearings.

6. In both meetings and petition hearings, the Chair shall have a vote. If a vote on a motion results in a tie, then the motion is deemed to be defeated.

7. The work of the Petitions Committee shall be directed by the relevant Senate-approved policies.

8. The Committee has the jurisdiction to:

 a) Act as an appeal body for the following decisions:

  1. a decision of an Academic Review Sub-committee (undergraduate students) denying a request for academic consideration;
  2. a decision of the Admissions & Progress Sub-committee (graduate students) denying a request for academic consideration;
  3. a decision denying a specific request for academic accommodation  pursuant to the Senate policy on “Academic Accommodation for Students with Disabilities”;
  4. a decision of academic misconduct, made by the appropriate dean(s)/ designate(s); either the finding of academic misconduct or the penalty may be appealed;
  5. a final grade on a course based on the methods and criteria used by the instructor;
  6. review and make decisions regarding a student request to expunge a record of academic misconduct no sooner than five years after the date of last registration;
  7. review and make recommendations to the President in regard to a student request to expunge a record of expulsion.
  8. review a decision of an Admissions Sub-committee, or the Admissions & Progress Sub-committee on readmission to a program, only if the basis of the appeal is procedural unfairness or bias on the part of the Admissions Sub-committee or Admissions & Progress Sub-committee.

 b) Make recommendations to Senate or the appropriate Senate Standing Committee or Board on matters arising out of specific cases.


1. Decisions which are the subject of an appeal will stand, pending the decision of the Committee.  Students who are “Required to Withdraw”, suspended or expelled are not permitted to attend classes pending the outcome of an appeal.

2. Subject to the provisions of Section 8 above, the Committee may overturn a decision on appeal where:

 a) a decision was  unreasonable based on the evidence before the original decision-maker, or new evidence is presented to the Committee that was not available at the time of the original decision;

 b) procedural unfairness or bias is demonstrated.

3. (a) The Committee may substitute any penalty or decision that the original decision-maker would otherwise be entitled to make.

(b)  Where the committee grants an appeal brought pursuant to section 8(a)(iii)  the committee shall refer the matter back to the Dean to implement an  accommodation in accordance with the Senate policy on “Academic Accommodation for Students with Disabilities”.

4. A petition must be filed within 10 working days of a final decision having been communicated in writing to the individual.

 a) All supporting documents must be filed with the Judicial Office within 10 additional working days after the petition is filed.

 b) The Chair of the Committee, or Acting Chair, may waive such deadlines if, in his/ her discretion, it is reasonable to do so.  Applications for a waiver of deadlines shall be made in writing to the Chair of the Committee.

 c) It is the responsibility of the Governance & Judicial Officer to review the submitted petition to determine if it meets the minimum requirements of completeness

5. The Governance & Judicial Officer will obtain an up-to-date copy of the student's academic transcript from the Office of Registrarial Services or Office of Graduate Studies for inclusion in the petition dossier.

6. There will be a complete and thorough exchange of written information between the parties prior to the hearing of the petition by the Committee. The exchange will be managed by the Governance & Judicial Officer. The completed petition dossier, when presented to the Committee, will contain only information which has been seen by both parties.

7. The Committee may hear petitions either in writing or orally at the request of either party.

8. A notice of hearing, which will include the time, place and purpose of the hearing, shall be provided by the University Secretariat/ Judicial Services to the parties concerned (Petitioner and University respondent).

9. No member of the Committee shall take part in a hearing wherein he/she believes that he/she may be in a situation of conflict of interest (defined as a situation where financial, professional or personal considerations may compromise, or have the appearance of compromising, the judgment of a Committee Member in carrying out his/ her duties). Should a Committee Member believe that he/she may be in a conflict of interest situation, he/she shall inform the Chair immediately. In any cases of doubt about a Member’s possible conflict of interest, the Committee shall rule on whether a conflict of interest exists after hearing representations from the parties.

10. Decisions shall be based solely on the evidence presented at the hearing. The Committee's decision shall be made in closed session following the withdrawal of all persons other than Committee members and resource people required by the Committee.

11. Preliminary matters related to the hearing of a petition (for example, specific requests for oral versus written hearings; requests for deadline extensions or hearing re-scheduling) shall be decided by the Chair of the Committee, in consultation with other members as appropriate.  Where a party wishes to raise a preliminary matter they shall do so in writing to the Chair of the Committee.

12. Decisions of the Committee shall be written by the Chair of the Committee and distributed to the party or parties through the University Secretariat/ Judicial Services. In cases of urgency, the Committee may direct that the parties be advised of the decision orally and by the Governance & Judicial Officer (without reasons included), with the written decision and reasons to follow.

13. Subject to the provisions noted below, all hearings before the Committee shall be open to the public. On the request of any party, or on its own initiative, the Committee may hold a closed session hearing where it is of the opinion that:

 a) the matters to be discussed will involve intimate financial, personal matters, or other matters of such nature, so that the desirability of avoiding disclosure outweighs the desirability of adhering to the principle that the hearing be open to the public; or,

 b) the matters involve public security.

14. A party to proceedings at a hearing may:

 a) be represented by a person of their choice;

 b) make representations to the Committee and call individuals with relevant information to give evidence;

 c) question individuals called by other parties as reasonably required for a full and fair disclosure of the facts in relation to which they have given evidence.

15. The Committee may admit as evidence at a hearing, oral testimony and any other form of evidence that is considered relevant to the subject matter of the hearing.  The Committee may exclude anything unduly repetitious or which is not relevant to the subject matter of the hearing.

16. A hearing may be adjourned from time to time by the Committee where it is shown to its satisfaction that the adjournment is required to permit an adequate hearing to be held.

17. In appeals involving the methods and criteria of an instructor, the Committee may, if it deems it necessary, obtain an independent assessment of the methods and criteria in question.  The assessor(s) will be chosen with the agreement of both parties. If there is a failure to agree on an assessor, he/she shall be chosen by majority vote of the Committee. The assessor need not be from the University of Guelph. The assessor shall report in writing to the Committee and may recommend a grade or final standing.  The report will be made available to the parties concerned prior to the Committee's decision.

18. The Dean or Associate Dean Academic of the student's College, or the Associate Dean of Graduate Studies, shall be responsible for implementing the decisions of the Committee.

19. In cases involving academic misconduct where the Committee decides to recommend expulsion or revocation/rescinding of a degree, the Committee will forward its decision to the President for further determination.

20. Except in the case of a recommendation for expulsion or revocation/rescinding of a degree, the decision of the Committee is final and takes effect immediately.

21. The Committee shall report annually to Senate on the types of petitions and appeals it has received and the actions taken.