Penn State Harrisburg

S-1. Submission of Petitions to the University Faculty Senate

Guidelines for the petition process can be found at http://www.senate.psu.edu/student_petitions/petition_process.pdf.

Petitions may be submitted for exceptions to the Academic Policies and Procedures approved by the University Faculty Senate. Typical requests include grade changes, retroactive changes in registration or withdrawal, and extensions of late drop credits. Students are advised to review the relevant Faculty Senate policies, which are available at http://www.senate.psu.edu/policies/.  For those special cases requiring confidentiality, such as the trauma drop, students at Penn State Harrisburg should consult with Dr. Steven Backels and Linda Meashey in the Student Assistance Center [717-948-6025]. 

A. Preparation of Petitions

The petition must include the following items: a letter, described as the student request, an unofficial University transcript, any relevant University forms with the appropriate signature[s] and data, and any relevant or appropriate documentation.

  1. Student Request:The student should prepare a dated, brief, factual, and signed letter addressed to the Senate Committee on Undergraduate Education. All statements in the letter must be truthful and verifiable, that is, students should not blame their problems on malfunctions in eLion or the telephone registration system if there is no evidence that the either system was ever used. The letter should include:
  2. The student's identification number, current address, e-mail address, and phone number,
  3. A clear statement of the requested action(s) and an explanation      of why the petition should be granted,
  4.  All relevant information, such as, the exact dates of the circumstances outlined in the letter;
  5. Reason(s) that warrant(ed) the requested action;
  6. Reason(s) why the procedures in Policies and Rules for Students could not be followed. For example, if the request is for an increase in late drop credits, the student must explain the reasons that the allowable late drop credits were used. If the request is for a selective late drop of one or two courses from a previous semester, the student must explain why the circumstances did not affect all of courses taken that semester (e.g., a broken leg might affect a volleyball course, but not a calculus course). If a retroactive withdrawal is requested, the student must explain why the withdrawal was not done before the last day of classes.
  7. Documentation:It is the student's responsibility to collect and submit any documentation relevant to the request. In some cases, documentation is required and in other cases, it is optional.
  8. The following documents are required:
  9. Unofficial Transcript: An unofficial University transcript available from the Registrar must be part of the petition package. Transcripts from e-Lion cannot be used.
  10. University Forms: University forms, such as the Drop/Add form, or any registration records relevant to the request must be included.
  11. A petition to the Senate is not required if an error has occurred during scheduling and the student never attended the course. Administrative course cancellation may be initiated through the Registrar's Office. Please contact the Office of the Registrar, Swatara Building, 717-948-6250.

B. Special Conditions

Since petitions for exceptions to the University Faculty Senate policies are often unique, students and faculty should note that the following examples apply only to typical cases.

  1. Petitions for retroactive registration are monitored carefully. Students petitioning for retroactive registration must prove that they attended the course, met all the course requirements, failed to notify the instructor of their status, and explain why they did not or could not respond to the e-mails, letters, and telephone calls outlining the college's policies on incomplete registration. The course instructor must endorse all such petitions in writing.
  2. Students requesting selective actions, such as a request to late drop of only one course, must present persuasive evidence to justify the request.
  3. Requests for grade changes after one year from the conclusion of a course must include a letter of support from the instructor explaining the circumstances. A grade change authorization form must be submitted by the School Director of the academic unit offering the course.

C. Confidentiality Requirements

Faculty and administrators should understand that some petitions may require strict confidentiality. In those cases, faculty should consult with the School Director and the Senior Director of Student Affairs to ensure that the student's rights, which are protected by the Buckley Amendment, are respected. 

D. Evaluation of Petitions

Petitions are not reviewed on a regular schedule, but are considered by members of the Senate Committee on Undergraduate Education and processed by the Senate Office as quickly as possible.

  1. Well-documented, fairly routine requests for retroactive withdrawal, course late drop (submitted after the deadline, but before the last day of the class), an increase of a maximum of two late drop credits, or a late grade change are reviewed by an appointed member of the Senate Committee on Undergraduate Education. These types of requests require only one signature. Therefore, they are generally processed faster than other petitions.
  2. At least three members of the Senate Committee on Undergraduate Education review petitions that are initially denied. This committee also reviews petitions for less routine requests, such as the retroactive late drop (submitted after the class has ended) or an increase of more than two credits to a student's late drop credit limit.
  3. Students will be notified of the Senate's decision in writing by the Faculty Senate Office. 

E. Appeals Process

Students should be advised that there is an appeals process if the Subcommittee on Undergraduate Education denies the petition. The student may appeal in writing to the Committee on Undergraduate Education. If denied at that level, the student may appeal to the Chairperson of the University Faculty Senate. If the Chairperson denies the request, the appeals process is ended.

Approved: Academic Council December 3, 2002

Revised: Academic Council April 8, 2009