Robert's Rules of Order

Robert's Rules of Order

Basic assumptions:

  • Role of the Chair.
    • Facilitates the flow of business.  The chair applies the rules unless the assembly challenges the action.
    • Normally does not engage in debate while serving as chair.
    • Votes when the vote makes a difference; i.e., to break a tie or to cause a tie.
  • Business done with motions.
    • All business is to be introduced in the form of a motion.
    • Debate follows and must be germane to the current motion.
    • Once made, motions belong to the body.
  • Majority rules, while minority needs to be protected.

Basic rules:

  • Agenda
    • UAS by-laws require the circulation of the agenda at least 5 class days before the meeting.
    • Should contain the wording of the motions to come as business items.
  • Quorum
    • UAS by-laws set this at a simple majority [50% +1].  However, the chair declares a “quorum”.  This ruling may always be challenged.
  • Main motion
    • Statement of the business to be acted on.  Must be introduced before debate on the item.
    • May be amended by addition, deletion, or substitution.
      • Discussion only on the amendment.
    • If an amendment is approved, the “amended” motion now becomes the motion before the body.
    • Motions need a second, and they are approved by simple majority.
    • Note that a “friendly amendment” must be acted on as a regular motion.
  • Actions dealing with a motion
    • “Table” - Purpose is to postpone debate of a motion.  Requires a second, is not debatable, and requires simple majority and cannot be taken from the “table” unless a majority supports that action.
    • Refer – Purpose is to have another group deal with the motion.  Requires a second, can be debated, can be amended, and requires simple majority.
    • Reconsider – Purpose is to have another say about a motion on that day that was already dealt with.   Mover must have voted with prevailing side, requires a second, and requires a simple majority. 
    • “Call the question” – Purpose is to close debate on the item before the house, requires a second, and requires 2/3 this motion is not debatable.
  • Voting
    • UAS rules allow voice vote, show of hands, or secret ballot at the discretion of the chair.
    • Secret ballot if requested by 10% of the members present.
    • Proxy votes are not allowed.
    • Robert’s Rules treats abstentions as non-votes. [Our current practice is to count abstentions, thus treating these positions as “another type of vote”.  Which raises the question of whether it is possible to abstain from voting - can you abstain when an abstention is counted as a vote just the same as voting yes or no??]
  • Ex-officio membership
    • Purpose is to make someone a member because of the “office” held.  Robert’s Rules count these members as any other member; e.g, right to debate, right to vote, and right to hold office.  Under GVSU’s Faculty Handbook voting rights of ex officio members have been removed in many settings.

Page last modified September 28, 2018