2016-2017 Parliamentarian’s Corner 3: Robert’s Rules

There are a few basic ideas every Kappa Psi Brother should be fluent in. One of these are the basic voting and discussion procedures outlined in Robert’s Rules. In this Parliamentarian’s Corner, I will walk you through an example of a discussion that might be had at a typical Chapter meeting at the beginning of the academic year – planning for the annual Chapter cookout! Try to follow the outline of the map at the bottom as you review the example below (italicized words below refer to the map). A big thank you goes out to Brother Johnny Wong, who created the presentation this map was reproduced from.

Main Motion: The main motion is the topic at hand to be discussed. For example, the question may be: how will we determine the budget for food at our Chapter’s cookout?

In starting the discussion, a Brother suggests that everyone attending the cookout be fed by saying: “I motion to purchase a sufficient amount of food to ensure that all Brothers and potential rushees attending the cookout are fed with 2 Cheeseburgers at the cookout.”

Once the main motion is made, you must follow the map to the Debate diamond.

Debate: At this point, those Brothers attending the meeting will talk about the proposal and determine the best course of action. Generally, there is a defined time limit for discussion – be sure to keep track of time and observe the time limits set by your Chapter’s policies to ensure that your meetings are as efficient as possible.

There are now several options – follow the map to secondary motions, vote, or primary (first) amendment.

Secondary Motion: There are a number of options which exist for use as secondary motions. For example, a motion can be made to commit/refer the discussion to a committee that you may have for Rush or Recruitment.

Primary Amendment: At this point in the discussion, Brother K could speak up say “I think it will cost too much to feed all potential Alumni Brothers, visiting Brothers, P4 Brothers, etc.” and make a motion to amend by saying “I move to amend the motion to state that we will “purchase a sufficient amount of food to ensure that all potential rushees will be fed 2 Cheeseburgers at the cookout.”

  • A ‘second’ from another Brother is required to allow this motion to amend to move from the debate diamond to the primary amendment square. If no ‘second’ is provided, continue debate on the main motion.
  • When an amendment is made, there is a new discussion which starts for that amendment. Stop the current timer for the discussion of the main motion – you will restart the timer for the main motion when you have finished with the primary amendment.
  • Start a timer to keep track of the discussion time for the primary amendment. During the discussion of the primary amendment, a secondary (second) amendment can be made by a Brother if, again, another Brother ‘seconds’ their motion. For example, Brother Y could state, during the discussion of the primary amendment “I think it is important that we plan to feed visiting Brothers and Alumni Brothers who attend to show their dedication to Kappa Psi” they could then state: “I move to amend the amendment made by Brother K to state that we will ‘purchase a sufficient amount of food to ensure that all potential rushees, visiting Brothers and Alumni Brothers will be fed 2 Cheeseburgers at the cookout’.”
  • When a secondary amendment is made and ‘seconded’, again, stop the timer keeping track of the elapsed time for debate on the primary amendment. When finished with the secondary amendment, you will go back to continue where you left off with the primary amendment.

Vote: Once time for debate has run out (or a secondary motion for the previous question has been made) it is time to vote! There are several ways in which you can vote:

  • Voice vote: The Brother running the meeting at the time of the vote will call for votes saying: “All those in favor say aye…. all those opposed say nay”. The Brother running the meeting will evaluate the vote and state the outcome. Should you disagree with the stated outcome, you may call for Division.
    • Division forces a recount of votes by requiring a different method for voting when results of a voice vote are difficult to discern.
    • On the map, the division parallelogram is an extension of vote Once the results of the vote are finalized, proceed back to the appropriate debate diamond.
    • Other methods for voting include:
      • Counting raised hands
      • Standing to signify votes
      • Voting by secret ballot
      • Electronic systems
    • The voting method should be completed by secret ballot if there is any doubt that holding a public vote will sway the results of the vote.

Debate: When returning back to debate from a secondary amendment to a primary amendment or a primary amendment to the main motion, start your timer from the point where you left off – for example, let’s say that debate for a main motion will be no more than 15 minutes. After 5 minutes, a primary amendment is made. Once that amendment is voted on, return to the new amended main motion or original main motion and continue debate with 10 minutes remaining. Note that the time limit for discussions can be extended, but this will require another secondary motion to extend debate for a certain amount of time.

roberts rules map

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s