Purpose: As we discussed previously, a huge advantage to utilizing Robert’s Rules is that it provides structure to our meetings and designates methods for achieving various goals. Occasionally, a very important but non-specific or ill-defined question/idea is brought up for discussion. When this happens, it is generally a good idea to refer such a question/idea to a committee of Brothers in which the thought can be discussed in greater detail but without the constraints set on discussion outlined by the House Rules and Robert’s Rules (such as those regarding time limits for discussion, the number of times an individual Brother can speak, etc.). However, an issue may be so important that it warrants discussion and input from every Brother attending the meeting and/or cannot be delayed until a committee can discuss the question/idea in detail. When a situation such as those described above arises, Brothers can utilize the Committee of the Whole. Discussion: There are several different ways in which the Committee of the Whole may be used. The procedure is dependent upon the needs of the group and the level of formality required within the discussion. Each of the three options will be outlined below with the key similarities and differences highlighted. 1. Committee of the Whole 2. As if in (or Quasi) Committee of the Whole 3. Informal Consideration 1. Committee of the Whole – most formal, most flexible discussion: a. A Brother must make a motion to commit or refer in order to start the process. For example, “I motion that a Committee of the Whole be formed to discuss X” (X being the topic of discussion). In this case, there is no specified time limit included in the motion. Should you wish to limit debate in the Committee of the Whole, you should state the length of time in the motion, such as – “…Committee of the Whole be formed to discuss X for 10 minutes.” However, note that if a time limit is approved, discussion time while in the Committee of the Whole CANNOT be extended. If the motion to refer to the Committee of the Whole passes, continue to the next step below. b. As the formal chairperson of the group, the presiding Officer (Regent/Satrap/Grand Regent) will then appoint a “Chairperson” for the committee who will lead the discussion (and later provide the “report” of the committee). c. At this point, discussion is open to Brothers and only motions to adopt (creating a main motion), motions to amend a main motion, and a motion to “rise and report” are allowed (the motion to “rise and report” ends discussion within the Committee of the Whole). Brothers are allowed to speak as many times as they may like, provided each Brother is given an opportunity to speak at least once before a Brother speaks a second time. Limits regarding the length of each individual speech included in the House Rules are observed while in the Committee of the Whole (the Committee of the Whole removes limits to the total length of time a Brother can speak and the number of speeches an individual Brother can make if these are limited in the House Rules). d. The motion to “rise and report” is equivalent to a privileged motion to adjourn (it requires a majority affirmative vote, cannot be amended, and is undebatable). When the time limit set during the motion to refer to the Committee of the Whole has been reached, or a motion to rise and report has passed, the presiding Officer will call upon the appointed Committee of the Whole chairperson to provide their report of the committee’s discussion. The report should contain a brief summary of the main ideas discussed by the Committee of the Whole and also include any recommendations (main motion(s) which the committee voted to approve while in the Committee of the Whole). i. Should the Committee of the Whole create a main motion, the group will need to vote as to whether the motion should be adopted. This second vote is needed because the vote to adopt while within the Committee of the Whole is actually a vote to recommend the motion to the main group (the Chapter, Province, Fraternity as a whole depending on the situation) and not a motion to simply approve and adopt the motion as it would be considered while outside of the Committee of the Whole. ii. If a main motion is created and amended, vote(s) should be taken by the main group to determine if amendments recommended by the Committee will be accepted by the main group. A member may ask that each amendment proposed by the Committee be voted on separately; otherwise, it is in order to simply vote on whether or not to adopt all amendments to the main motion and then subsequently vote on whether the main group will adopt the main motion (with or without the proposed amendments). iii. If no main motion is recommended by the Committee of the Whole, the report will simply conclude with a brief summary of the proceedings of the Committee – note that the report of the chairperson (and not the discussions while in the Committee of the Whole) should be included in the meeting minutes. 2. As if in (or Quasi) the Committee of the Whole – less formal, less flexible. a. There are a few key differences between the Committee of the Whole and the Quasi Committee of the whole. They are outlined below: i. The motion to start the process would be something to the effect of “I motion to discuss X as if in the Committee of the Whole for 10 minutes”. You might also say “I motion to discuss X in the Quasi Committee of the Whole for 10 minutes”. Again, note the time limit, which may or may not be included. ii. The presiding Officer (Regent/Satrap/Grand Regent) retains the chair in this case, leads discussion, and provides the report of the Committee when discussion has concluded. iii. If a main motion is adopted (with or without amendments) while in the Quasi Committee of the Whole, the committee is automatically dissolved and the presiding officer presents the report of the Quasi Committee of the Whole. Additionally, all other possible subsidiary motions are allowed when in the Quasi Committee of the Whole. Any subsidiary motion accepted by the main group also automatically dissolves the Quasi Committee of the Whole. For example, motions to postpone, lay on the table, refer to committee, etc. are allowed and put an end to discussion within the Quasi Committee of the Whole. iv. When discussion within the Quasi Committee of the Whole has ended, the presiding Officer will provide the report of the Quasi Committee of the Whole, including any recommendations made by the committee. The main group will need to vote on the recommendations in the same way as if discussion was completed within the Committee of the Whole. Once again, the report of the Committee, not the discussion said within the Quasi Committee of the Whole, should be included in the meeting minutes. 3. Informal Discussion – least formal, least flexible: a. There are, again, several key differences. They are outlined below: i. The motion to start the process would be something to the effect of “I motion to discuss X informally for 10 minutes”. Again, note the time limit, which may or may not be included. ii. Because there is no committee involved, there is no report of committee discussion or committee recommendations. As such, all motions made during informal discussion carry the same weight and force as if not being discussed informally (a motion to adopt a main motion, for example, is voted on only once and adopted or rejected as it would be during normal discussion. iii. When discussing a question/idea informally, the only rules which are disposed of are those regarding the number of individual speeches and the length of individual speeches (as is the case in the Committee of the Whole and the Quasi Committee of the Whole). However, when using informal discussion, these exceptions only apply to discussions of main motions or amendments – any other debatable motions carry the normal limits to individual speeches described in the House Rules. iv. As when discussing an idea within a Quasi Committee of the Whole, any adoption of a main motion or subsidiary motion automatically ends informal discussion. Because there is no committee involved in informal discussion, any ideas discussed or motions made should be included in the meeting minutes. Example: A few Brothers at your Chapter have decided that they believe the Chapter should do a better job of recognizing the amazing contributions of the Chapter’s Brothers. However, they are unsure of where to start and would like to discuss their ideas with the Chapter. During the Chapter’s next general body meeting a Brother motions to “form a Committee of the Whole to discuss potential options for recognition of Brothers.” A number of Brothers second the motion and it passes easily with little discussion. As such, the Chapter Regent chooses the Brother making the motion to act as the chairperson of the Committee of the Whole. Discussion begins and Brothers make a number of points which help to form ideas for potential methods of recognition. Questions raised include: 1. What actions and/or qualities are worthy of recognition? 2. How will Brothers be chosen for recognition? 3. How many Brothers should be recognized in a given time period? 4. What form of recognition will be given? 5. Should multiple forms of recognition be used? Based on this discussion, Brothers create a number of ideas for recognition: 1. Brothers will be recognized weekly by nomination from another Brother for clearly demonstrating Industry, Sobriety, Fellowship or High Ideals. 2. Monthly, a Brother will be recognized for their outstanding leadership within the Chapter’s committees. The Chapter will vote on nominations submitted by committee chairpersons. These Brothers will have the privilege of being served first at all Chapter events in which food is served during the next academic year. 3. A single Brother will be recognized as the “Brother of the Year”. The Chapter’s Executive Committee will select the recipient after receiving nominations from the Chapter. Each recipient will have their name displayed on a plaque which will be hung in the Chapter’s College display case. 4. Dues will be increased by 10% to fund a small scholarship, to be given to two P4 Brothers yearly. The Executive Committee will work with the Chapter GCD to create the scholarship criteria. 5. The Brother who fundraises the most money for the Chapter will be given a refund for their yearly dues at the end of each academic year. Once these ideas were formed and each was adopted by the Committee of the Whole for recommendation through a majority affirmative vote, a Brother motions that the Committee “rise and report its conclusions”. Upon summarizing the discussion and the 5 recommendations devised by the Committee, the Chapter votes and adopts each recommendation. Conclusion: As you can see, the Committee of the Whole, as well as the other options for expanding discussion, provide a variety of interesting ways in which Brothers can lessen the normal constraints of discussion. While each option is slightly different, each method provides unique characteristics and provides differing advantages which may be utilized for the purpose of better meeting the needs of the Fraternity.
Purpose: As we discussed previously, a huge advantage to utilizing Robert’s Rules is that it provides structure to our meetings and designates methods for achieving various goals. One minor, yet important topic, is that of how the Chapter, Province or Fraternity-At-Large adopts reports of standing or special committees. While your Chapter may not regularly receive reports from committees, it is important to know how to receive such reports as the mechanisms for adopting reports can vary significantly depending on the contents of the report. Discussion: The procedure is dependent upon the answers to the following questions: 1. Are there any actionable recommendations or resolutions included in the report of the committee? 2. If there are actionable recommendations or resolutions, what type of business was discussed by the committee? 3. Does such business include amendments or substitutions of proposals/documents? Starting with question 1, the following discussion will assist your thinking: Question 1 – No actionable recommendations or resolutions contained in the report. In this case, no action needs to be taken – should the report consist of facts and/or opinions of the committee members, no action is needed, as the members do not need to act on the opinions/facts provided by the committee. Question 1 – Actionable recommendations or resolutions contained in the report. In this case, the members will need to vote as to whether or not they will accept and follow the recommendation(s)/resolution(s) presented by the committee which are contained in the report. Question 2 – What type of business was discussed? While I will not go into excessive detail here, discussions, proposals, resolutions, etc. that are referred/committed to committees take precedence over simple recommendations made by a committee during their normal course of business. Thus, there are special limits as to what will happen in the case of question 3 for issues referred/committed to a committee, as these question(s)/issue(s) carry the weight of the membership’s voice (as the members must have previously voted to refer or commit the question(s)/issue(s) to the committee). Question 3 – Do recommendations or resolutions contain amendments and/or substitutions? While this is the most complex situation, the course of action should seem reasonable. Documents which are referred/committed to a committee may be amended by the committee during their deliberations, and, as such, the members must decide if such amendments or substitutions of text meet their needs. At such a point, discussion of the amendment to the original recommendation, proposal, resolution, document, etc. must take place before the recommendation(s)/resolution(s) contained in the report can be adopted by the members. An example will likely be helpful: Example: The Pledging Committee has been referred the following question: “What were the outcomes and problems associated with social events during the previous pledging season?” After discussing the issue, the Pledging Committee Reports that they believe that the question is too narrowly focused and makes the following recommendations: 1. The question be amended to say “What were the outcomes and problems associated with social and professional development events during the previous pledging season?” 2. The Committee be given an additional month to discuss and develop recommendations regarding all such events. With these recommendations provided to the Chapter by the Committee in an open meeting, the chair should open discussion regarding: I. The amendment to the charge of the Committee which adds professional development events to those being evaluated. a. During discussion, the amendment could be amended further by any member through the normal method of offering an amendment to a proposal. When discussion ends, if the amendment(s) is/are approved or rejected, then the members will need to discuss the recommendation as it stands and vote again as to whether or not the final recommendation be accepted by the Chapter. II. As such, let’s say that the proposals are successfully amended by members as to read as follows: 1. What were the outcomes and problems associated with social and professional development events during the previous pledging season? 2. The Committees be given an additional 2 weeks to discuss and develop recommendations regarding all such events hosted by the Chapter in the month of September. III. At this point, provided discussion on the charges of the Committee has ended, members will vote as to whether these recommendations will be adopted by the Chapter and provided to the Pledging Committee in this case, or simply adopted by the Chapter in the case of other topics, such as for the budget (in terms of business presented by the Auditing Committee), or Local Ordinance proposals (in terms of business presented by the Legislative Committee). Conclusion: As you can see, recommendations/resolutions made by a Committee may have major effects upon the business of the Committee as well as the members as a whole. Therefore, it is important for members to understand the role they play in adopting or influencing the work of Committees.
Motion to Postpone vs. Motion to Postpone Indefinitely:
Purpose: As we discussed previously, a huge advantage to utilizing Robert’s Rules is that it provides structure to our meetings and designates methods for achieving various goals. From time to time, you may find it necessary to postpone particular business for a certain, relatively long length of time rather than simply delaying it very briefly (as we discussed previously with the motion to lay on the table). For this purpose, you should utilize the motion to postpone. However, this is quite different than the motion to postpone indefinitely, as this motion stops debate and defeats a main motion without an actual vote taking place. As you can see, these seemingly similar motions are actually quite different – you can see how different they actually are below.
How it Works: The simple motion to postpone allows for a motion to be delayed until a certain specified time during the current meeting or the next meeting or simply until the next scheduled meeting. As such, a motion may be made to “postpone the question at hand until 3 PM.”, “postpone the question at hand until 3 PM. during the next meeting”, or “postpone the question at hand until the next meeting”.
The motion to postpone indefinitely allows a Brother to promptly end debate on a main motion, should they believe the motion to be frivolous or not worthy of discussion. When this motion passes, the motion that has been postponed may not be brought up again for discussion during the meeting in which it was postponed.
These two motions require a “second” from another Brother, are debatable, and a simple majority of 50% +1 Brothers attending the meeting and voting affirmatively are needed for passage of either motion. However, the motion to postpone indefinitely may not be amended or reconsidered if defeated.
- A Brother in your Chapter has made the motion to “celebrate the Regent’s birthday by requiring the Chaplain to bring 99 cupcakes to the next Executive Committee meeting.”
o Several Brothers laugh, and shout “second”
- With the motion on the floor for discussion, you raise your hand and are acknowledged by the chair.
o You say “while I would love to celebrate our Regent’s birthday, our Chaplain is much too busy to bake 99 cupcakes. I motion to postpone the previous question indefinitely.”
o Your motion is seconded by the (very busy) Chaplain.
- Debate on your motion starts, and, because you think most Brothers will support you, you make a motion to end debate by saying: “I motion for the previous question”.
o The Chaplain seconds your motion once again.
o Your motion to end debate passes easily.
- Your motion to postpone indefinitely is now voted upon and passes, allowing for a more serious discussion of business.
In conclusion, motions to postpone allow us to delay or stop discussion on motions when we find that the time is simply not right for discussion or that motions are ill advised or frivolous. As you can see, these motions, when utilized properly, allow you to better control the flow of business in your meetings – as such, they are excellent tools in our parliamentary procedures toolkit!
Motion to Lay on the Table – aka Tabling a Main Motion
Purpose: As we discussed previously, a huge advantage to utilizing Robert’s Rules is that it provides structure to our meetings and designates methods for achieving various goals. Sometimes, a topic currently under discussion (main motion) must be set aside in order to allow for urgent or necessary business to be addressed first. Robert’s Rules accounts for this situation with a motion allowing a topic to be “laid on the table” – better known as “tabling”. Since this motion can be confusing, sometimes it is used incorrectly. That is why we are addressing it for September’s Parliamentarian’s Corner.
How it Works: The motion to lay on the table allows an assembly to lay a motion or series of motions temporarily aside to allow for urgent or necessary business. After dispensing of the urgent or necessary business, a motion to take from the table should be provided to allow the assembly to resume its previous business.
Should there be no time remaining at the current meeting, the business that has been laid on the table should be taken up during the next meeting. If the motions or series of motions is not taken from the table at the subsequent meeting, all motions that were laid on the table during the initial meeting are considered defeated and may not be reconsidered in the same form at a later date.
The motions to lay on the table and take from the table take precedence over the vast majority of motions. These two motions require a “second” from another Brother, but are not debatable (do not qualify for an allotted amount of debate time). Therefore, a vote should be taken immediately after the motion is made and seconded. A simple majority of 50% +1 Brothers attending the assembly and voting affirmatively are needed for passage of either motion.
- Your Chapter is discussing a motion to establish an annual blood drive with a total budget of $500 to be held in conjunction with the American Red Cross.
- An amendment is made to increase the budget to $600 to allow for additional supplies
- 5 minutes of the allotted 15 minutes of discussion has transpired for the amendment
- A Brother notices that there are only 15 minutes remaining until the meeting will be concluded, and your chapter must discuss the date/time of your next meeting (what the Brother considers to be more urgent business).
- This Brother may make a motion to lay the amendment and main motion on the table.
- A vote on laying the motions on the table should be held immediately and, should 50% + 1 Brothers agree, the motions are successfully laid on the table temporarily.
- If the chapter only takes 5 minutes to decide the date/time of the next meeting…
- A Brother may make a motion to take the motion (total budget of annual blood drive) from the table
- Then, discussion of the amendment (increasing the budget to $600) will resume with 10 minutes of debate remaining.
- If the chapter takes 15 minutes to decide the date/time of the next meeting….
- During the next meeting, a motion to take these motions from the table should be provided to allow for continued discussion.
- Again, discussion of the amendment (increasing the budget to $600) will resume with 10 minutes of debate remaining.
- If the motion is not taken from the table at the initial meeting or next meeting, all motions that were laid on the table will be defeated
- If the chapter only takes 5 minutes to decide the date/time of the next meeting…
Two other similar motions exist, which are those to postpone until a specified time or indefinitely. These options will be discussed during the October Parliamentarian’s Corner.
As discussed in the Uniform By-Laws (Graduate and Collegiate Uniform By-Law X), the (abbreviated) order of business for Chapter meetings is bolded below. Please consult the Rituals Book for the full list and order of official business:
Call to order (via proper methods)
- Ritual should be used to open meetings once it has been determined that quorum has been attained.
- Ritual should only be completed when in a private, secured location.
- Do not utilize ritual when in doubt.
Discussion and eventual approval of minutes of the previous meeting(s)
- The Secretary should create a clean and clear draft of the meeting minutes after the conclusion of every meeting for approval at the next meeting.
- Ensure that the draft copy of the meeting minutes under discussion at the present meeting have been made available to Brothers in advance to facilitate discussion.
- Display an electronic copy of the meeting minutes during the meeting (if possible) to facilitate discussion of what was written in the draft copy of the minutes.
- Often, a motion is made to “suspend the rules to bypass the reading of the minutes” which, if approved, allows the Chapter to approve the minutes without reading them orally in their entirety.
- This requires an affirmative vote of 2/3 of the members present.
- Meeting minutes must be approved before they are considered final, official records of business conducted by the Chapter.
- Should the meeting minutes not be initially approved, corrective action must be taken to amend the minutes until they are approved by the Chapter. Business should not proceed until the minutes of the previous meeting have been approved.
Reports of the Officers
- Each Officer should submit a report of some kind to detail progress on their duties.
- Such reports need not be read orally during the meeting if other pressing business needs to be addressed.
- Officers may simply state “Please refer to my report for further information”.
- In this case, such reports should be provided to the Chapter in advance, if possible.
- Officers should allow Brothers an opportunity to ask questions regarding the topics discussed in the report.
- Committee Chairs should follow the same procedure as previously discussed in the Reports of the Officers section.
- This includes any business that was delayed or unfinished during the previous meeting(s).
- Unfinished business should be completed before attending to new business to ensure that all business is provided with a reasonable amount of time for discussion/debate.
- New business allows Brothers the opportunity to raise any question, topic of discussion, or motion of their choosing.
- As such, Regents and/or Chapter Parliamentarians must have a fundamental knowledge of Robert’s Rules of Order to ensure that they are prepared to lead discussions regarding any topic that may arise during this section of the meeting.
- This provides Brothers the opportunity to discuss and provide necessary announcements for causes that are in need of Brotherly support.
- Meetings should be ended via the proper Ritual.
- Ritual should only be completed when in a private, secured location.
- Do not utilize ritual when in doubt.
- Ensure that all ritual items have been collected and are ready to be placed under lock and key once the meeting has concluded.
- When possible be sure to provide Brothers with the date and time for the upcoming, subsequent meeting.
P4, University of Illinois at Chicago – Chi Chapter
As a Nu class initiate of Chi Chapter in the fall of 2013, Alumni Chairman in the 2014-2015 academic year, and Regent in the 2015-2016 academic year, Matt has been involved with all of Chi Chapter’s committees over the years and has been involved in MAP’s Legislative Committee. Matt’s favorite Kappa Psi Related activities are attending rush/pledging events and Province Assemblies in and outside of MAP (the fall 2016 MAP Assembly will be Matt’s 10th Province Assembly attended). Professionally, Matt is interested in academia (utilizing his previous teaching degrees), health-system administration, ambulatory care, and the pharmaceutical industry and is planning to apply for administrative residency programs this fall.
Matt is an avid exercise enthusiast and foodie, enjoying baking, cooking and grilling/smoking. As a previous league pool (billiards) player, Matt is looking forward to picking up this hobby again after finishing school/residencies.
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.
7Why is attendance/quorum important?
In order to conduct business at any meeting, quorum must be established to ensure that any decisions made during your meeting are supported by enough of the Brothers of your Chapter. Quorum specifically ensures that a small number of Brothers cannot make potentially ill-advised decisions on behalf of your Chapter. Even though a small group of Brothers may have the best intentions in mind, a quorum also ensures that many Brothers have the opportunity to voice their opinions and provide thoughtful feedback on the topic(s) at hand. Attendance records indicate specifically which Brothers were in attendance, and allow you to determine if you have met the requirements of quorum for the decisions you would like to make at the meeting in question. Thus, once you have taken attendance and calculated the number of Brothers necessary for a quorum (this will be different depending on the nature of the business you plan to discuss), you may begin the meeting if you have met the necessary quorum (it is advisable, however, that you also calculate the number of votes needed to approve any business you would like to discuss before starting the meeting).
How do I calculate quorum, and how does it impact how we conduct business?
As alluded to previously, this is dependent upon what you plan to do during your meeting. The following situations are outlined in the Uniform By-Laws:
- Election of new members:
This (rightly) calls for the most stringent quorum. According to Uniform By-Law III, Section 2 a potential Brother must receive an affirmative vote from 3/4 of the members eligible to vote. This means that at least 3/4 of all of the Brothers in good standing in your Chapter must be in attendance and must vote affirmatively to admit a potential Brother into our Fraternity.
In short, the number of Brothers who must be in attendance is 3/4 of all Brothers in good standing. The number of Brothers voting “yes” must be ≥ 3/4 of all Brothers in good standing – at minimum 75% of Brothers in good standing.
- Election of Officers:
According to Uniform By-Law V, Section 2, 2/3 of Brothers who are in good standing must be in attendance in order to proceed with Officer elections (note that there is no special requirement for Graduate Chapter Officer elections). Any winning candidate must then earn the affirmative vote of 50% of those Brothers in attendance +1 vote (as this constitutes a majority of votes).
Thus, the number of Collegiate Brothers voting for a candidate must be not less than 1/2 + 1 vote of 2/3 of all Brothers in good standing or 33.3% +1 vote.
- Any other business:
By-Law XIV states that, unless stipulated in the Local Ordinances, the quorum necessary for meetings will be not less than 1/2 of all Chapter Brothers in good standing (note that the required number for Graduate Chapters is 1/5 of all Chapter Brothers in good standing).
Thus, the number of Collegiate Brothers voting to approve a motion must be 1/2 + 1 of 1/2 of the Brothers in good standing or 25% +1 vote.
What else do I need to know?
There are a few additional details you should consider:
- Your Chapter’s Local Ordinances may call for a higher number of Brothers constituting quorum or a higher number of Brothers necessary to pass a motion, elect an Officer, or admit a new Brother into the Fraternity. Please do refer to the corresponding sections of your Local Ordinances to determine what your Chapter’s specific requirements are! Also please note that you will need to understand how to count Brothers on clinical rotations (APPEs) into your quorum and voting calculations by reading your Local Ordinance XIV.
- Although the quorum necessary for amending the Local Ordinances is 50% of all Brothers in good standing, according to By-Law XVI, Section 1, a 2/3 affirmative vote is necessary for passage of amendments. Therefore, a minimum of 2/3 of 50% or 33.3% of the Brothers in good standing must vote affirmatively in order to approve an amendment.
- Finally, the same rules for quorum (detailed in Uniform By-Law XIV and your Local Ordinance XIV) and voting (at least 50% +1 votes required for approval of a motion) should be followed during meetings of the Executive Committee (and other committees) of your Chapter in accordance with your Local Ordinances & the appropriate Sub-Section of Uniform Collegiate and Graduate By-Law VII.
Please do let me know if you have any questions about these processes or if you would like me to address any topic in a future Parliamentarian’s Corner!
Brother Matt Holderly, Parliamentarian
- Create in-depth learning tools and/or experiences for Chapter Parliamentarians and interested other Brothers ~ 1 every 2 months.
- Create and release advanced informational update regarding Robert’s Rules topic ~ 1 per month
- Work with Chapters to answer questions regarding Robert’s rules and best practices for meetings – ongoing throughout the year
- Robert’s Rules review session for collegiate delegates right before general session starts. Briefly review Robert’s Rules right before Legislative session with assembly.