It's true that academic life (and not just at Cornell) is bounded by many regulations, almost all of which can be found in the current Cornell College Catalogue. It is to your advantage to become familiar with the Catalogue and other College publications, and to ask questions of your advisor, other faculty, and administrative personnel so that your traversal of the academic landscape is not interrupted by false turns or unwelcome detours.
It's also true that exceptional circumstances may sometimes argue for an exception to a given academic regulation. The Academic Standing Committee, a subcommittee of the faculty, has the responsibility to evaluate student petitions, and to approve or deny requests for exception to academic policies and regulations. The Committee usually meets the first three Mondays of each term. Petitions are available online or from the Registrar's Office, and should be submitted by noon on Friday, with all appropriate signatures and documentation, to be considered at the Monday meeting.
Students contemplating petitions are encouraged to seek the advice of their academic advisors and the registrar.