Special Appeals Committee Procedures & Committee Organization
(Approved by the Special Appeals Committee, April 25, 1995, revised September 5, 2007, revised November 2014)
A. Procedures for Handling Appeals
The Special Appeals Committee is an impartial adjudicative appeal body of last resort for current and former students of Trent University on academic matters.
Academic appeals will be handled as follows:
1. Appeals will be made in writing by the appellant on the application form available from the Special Appeals website and will be submitted to the secretary of the Special Appeals Committee in accordance with established deadlines (see Time Limits on Appeals, item 13 below). The secretary may provide information and guidance on procedures and legal principles. It is the responsibility of the appellant to formulate his/her appeal. The appellant and respondent will be informed that:
a) The most important information in the appeal is the written submission. This must clearly set out all pertinent information, the arguments upon which the appeal is based, and the remedy that is being sought. The provision of documentation is the sole responsibility of the appellant and the respondent, with the exception of the appellant's Trent academic record and the course syllabus which may be obtained for the committee by its secretary.
b) There will be a full exchange among the parties of the documentation supplied by the appellant and the respondent involved in the case.
c) The appellant may elect to have a hearing before a panel of the committee and has the right to represent themselves or to be represented. The appellant may call witnesses to corroborate their case. The respondent will also be given these options if the appellant elects to have a hearing. The appellant and respondent have the right to cross-examine witnesses.
d) Furthermore, the appellant and/or respondent may bring a support person with him or her to the hearing. That person will act as an observer and may not participate directly in the hearing.
e) A list of members of the committee who may participate in the hearing shall be posted on the Special Appeals website, and an appellant will be given the opportunity to request that any individual member be excluded from the hearing panel. Reasons that are acceptable to the panel for excluding a member must be provided by the appellant. Individual members of the panel will be asked to excuse themselves from the hearing if they perceive a conflict of interest or bias in the case.
f) All hearings will be held in camera. All information submitted for an appeal, whether written or verbal, and all deliberations in a case will be handled in as confidential a manner as possible.
1.2 The Chair of the Committee may make an early ruling that an appeal is not within the jurisdiction of the Committee and shall notify the Committee when such a ruling has been made. The secretary will notify the parties of the Chair’s ruling.
2. The secretary will send a copy of the appeal to the respondent and will request a written reply within the specified period of time as set out in item 13 below. In instances where a response is not received within the allotted time period, the appeal hearing may proceed.
3. The appellant will be sent a copy of the reply and will be allowed one further written statement. In instances where the statement is not received within the allotted time period, the appeal hearing may proceed.
4. The secretary, in consultation with the Chair of the committee, will set a time and place for the hearing, and will notify the parties to the hearing. Where notice of a hearing has been given to a party to a proceeding and the party does not attend at the hearing, the panel may proceed in the absence of the party.
5. While three members of the committee, inclusive of the Chair, constitute a quorum and may hear and decide cases, normally cases will be heard by a panel of five committee members. Wherever possible, a student representative will be included on the panel. The secretary will send copies of the full appeal documentation to members constituting a panel. At this stage any panel member who perceives a conflict of interest or a potential for bias will exclude themselves from the case.
6. The appeal hearings and meetings of the Special Appeals Committee will be chaired by the Chair of the Special Appeals Committee or one of the Vice-Chairs. The secretary will be present to provide information, but will not otherwise take part in the deliberations or decision-making.
7. The appellant and respondent, if they choose to attend, will be given the opportunity to present their cases. They will then respond to any questions and thereafter will be excused from the hearing. It is important to preserve a clear distinction at the hearing between the provision of information and actual deliberation on the case. The appellant and respondent are not entitled to engage committee members in debate or to participate in the evaluation of information. They are present to amplify the material already submitted to the committee and to deal with questions arising out of it.
8. Witnesses will answer any questions directed to them but will not otherwise attempt to engage in the hearing.
9. The committee will decide appeals by majority vote. The Chair will vote only to break a tie. Members are not allowed to abstain from voting.
10. The committee has the authority to prescribe appropriate relief which may include asking a university body that has previously denied a student appeal to reconsider the case.
11. Once a decision is reached, the Chair of the hearing panel will send a letter to the appellant informing them of the decision and the reasons for it. The respondent will also be sent a copy of the decision. A copy of the decision or a separate directive will be sent to the relevant university official(s) so that any necessary changes can be made in the student's academic record, or other action carried out.
12. All documents pertaining to an appeal will be kept confidential except to the extent required by these procedures or otherwise required by law. The file on the case will be kept securely in the office of the secretary for seven years, after which time the file will be destroyed with the exception of the decision letter and/or case report which will be kept permanently.
13. Time limits on appeals
a) Appeals must be filed with the secretary of the committee within four weeks (28 days) of receipt of the previous ruling.
b) Respondents are allowed three weeks to file a written reply with the secretary following receipt of the appeal from the secretary.
c) The appellant will be allowed one further week for a final written response following receipt of the reply from the secretary.
d) The appeal hearing will be established in as timely a fashion as possible following submission of appeal documentation.
e) The committee will notify the appellant and respondent of its decision normally within two weeks of the hearing.
f) The committee is not obliged to hear appeals that are submitted beyond the established deadline dates, however, the Chair shall have authority to waive or extend any of the deadlines as circumstances may warrant. In doubtful cases the Chair may consult the full committee. The secretary is empowered to grant minor extensions.
B. Committee Organization
1. The faculty members shall be appointed by Senate on the recommendation of the Faculty Board Nominating Committee.
2. The Chair shall be chosen from among the faculty members, and shall appoint two Vice-Chairs from among the faculty members on the Committee.. In order to have as much continuity as possible, the Chair will normally serve for at least a two-year term and be succeeded by a Vice-Chair. The secretary will provide the Faculty Board Nominating Committee with the names of the two Vice-Chairs and draw to its attention the committee's desire for continuity.
3. The Vice-Chairs will be asked to chair one or more hearings during the academic year.