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Centre for Academic Policy Support (CAPS)
The Centre for Academic Policy Support (CAPS) is a confidential student support service run by students, for students. The CAPS Coordinator is trained to assist fellow Waterloo undergraduates throughout their experience in navigating academic policy in the instances of filing petitions, grievances and appeals. We believe in students helping students, and that’s what we’re here to do.
How it Works
To access support simply send an email to us with your UWaterloo email address. This email should contain a brief explanation of your situation and what you would like support with. You will receive a response within 48 hours during regular business days (Monday-Friday).
If you are:
- Seeking exception from normal faculty or University rules and regulations (i.e. filing a petition)
- Feeling like you have been treated unfairly or have been discriminated against by a member of the University (i.e. filing a grievance)
- Unhappy with a decision made and believe you are able to establish grounds for an appeal (i.e. filing an appeal)
And if you are unsure of how to proceed with the situation, contact us and we will support you as you go through your case.
Some of the things we do:
- Help students define and articulate problems.
- Explain possible options, including but not limited to: speaking to an advisor, direction to campus or community services, supporting informal resolution, formal process.
- Provide clarity on University policy, for example: distinguishing between petitions and grievances, or the difference between Faculty Committee on Student Appeals (FCSA) vs University Committee on Student Appeals (UCSA).
- Walk students through applicable timelines and deadlines.
- Direct students to the proper forms and where to obtain required documentation.
- Providing templates, flowcharts, and summaries of university policy which are pertinent to a student’s situation.
Some things we are confused with doing, but do not do:
- Formally represent students in their cases. While we can offer comfort by accompany students to their hearing, students may bring a lawyer or professor as their formal representation.
- Provide legal counsel.
- Deal with matters concerning Ontario Human Rights Commission complaints.
- Guarantee any sort of result from your case.
- Share your specific case details outside of the VPEd portfolio, without your consent.
Your Academic Rights
The Academic Rights Handbook provides valuable information to help undergraduates understand what their academic rights are at Waterloo and guide them through the process of petitions, grievances, and appeals.
Petitions, Grievances, and Appeals Explained:
Petitions can be filed by students who are seeking a special exception from the regular University policies and procedures due to extenuating circumstances. Generally, they make changes to your academic transcript and/or your academic standing. Extenuating circumstances can include financial hardship, mental health concerns, family death or illness, or other personal situations which are out of your control and have a significant impact on your academic life.
- Adding or dropping a course after the deadline
- Reconsideration of academic decisions, such as a ‘Required to Withdraw’ or ‘Failed’ standing
- Changing numeric grades to a ‘Credit Received’ (CR) or a ‘No Credit Received’ (NCR) standing
Petitions fall under university policy 70.
Grievances can be filed by students who believe they have been treated unfairly by a member of the UWaterloo community, or who believe proper university policies and procedures have not been followed.
There are two types of grievances:
- Notice of Challenge
Can be filed against a person or group who has been biased against you or treated you unfairly; or against a member of the University community who has not followed University policies or procedures.
- Grade Reassessment
Can be filed if you believe your essay, exam, assignment, etc. was unfairly marked and you wish to have it remarked by another faculty member at the University.
Grievances fall under university policy 70.
Appeals can be filed by students to challenge a variety of decisions made at the University. These can include grievance decisions and discipline decisions made under university policy 33 and policy 71 (ie. behavioural or academic misconduct). There are specific grounds that students must meet in order to appeal to their faculty or at a higher level to the University.
Appeals fall under university policy 72.
If you’ve used the CAPS service and would like to provide feedback, please complete the CAPS Feedback Form. We appreciate your comments as we continuously work to best serve you!