Governing Methods

Governing Methods

Annual General Meetings

An Annual General Meeting occurs once in the beginning of every semester (Fall and Winter), serving as a space where members discuss and share the student organization's mission, goals, and accomplishments of the club. If requested by a member, the meeting may also include a report on the finances of the club. 

Annual General Meetings are opportunities where student groups may involve their membership in their activities and decision-making process, by proposing their goals and visions for the upcoming semester. As such, it is important for student groups to be aware of various governing methods that may support them in facilitating these meetings and discussions.

Robert's Rules of Order

Following Robert's Rules of Order, all participants must vote on the decision and a motion is won based on the majority of votes

Key Terminology

Robert's Rules of Order utilizes the following specific terms, as defined below:

Term Definitions
Adjourn Used to end the meeting
Commit Used to change or edit a motion currently under consideration by the group
Refer

Used to move the motion to a committee* that will prepare a report regarding the motion to present at the next meeting

*If no such committee exists, a new one is created

Motion Used to introduce a new action, project or decision to bring up at the meeting
Postpone indefinitely Used to kill an action and prevent the introduction of it during the rest of the meeting, but may be introduced later in the future
Question Used to end the debate immediately, but to do so, a 2/3 vote is required
Table Used to move the motion to a later time in the meeting or another meeting

Implementing Robert's Rules of Order

  1. Obtain the floor to speak and introduce the motion. Remember to address the chair when you have the floor.
  2. Wait for a second motion from a participant or the chair. If there is no second motion, the motion is immediately lost.
  3. The Chair states and presents your motion to the group.
  4. You may now speak and expand upon the motion which you introduced.
  5. The Chair will initiate voting on the motion among the group.  
  • To initiate voting, say the phrase: "All those in favour of the motion that [insert motion] say 'Aye'". Those against the motion will say 'No'
  • If majority is reached, the Chair says the phrase: "The motion is carried"
  • If majority is NOT reached, the Chair says the phrase: "The motion is lost"

Tips for Robert's Rules of Order

  • The Chair should facilitate each meeting so the meeting remains civil and the platform remains fair for all participants regardless of their vote. 
  • If the meeting is small in size, use only the terms motion, amend, adopt (accept a report without a discussion), and adjourn for ease of communication

Reference: https://diphi.web.unc.edu/files/2012/02/MSG-ROBERTS_RULES_CHEAT_SHEET.pdf

Consensus-based Decision Making

In order to reach a decision made with the method of Consensus-based Decision Making, all parties must agree with and support the proposed decision with no blocking of it by any party. 

Terminology

Consensus-based Decision Making utilizes the following specific terms as defined below:

Term Definition
Agreement Defined as support for the proposal
Consensus Defined as a decision with no blocks and an appropriate amount of stand asides and reservations
Block Someone may block the proposal (ie. veto) if they deeply disagree with it and all participants need to work together to find another proposal
Reservations Used when an individual has issues with the proposal, but is willing to support it regardless
Stand asides An individual may choose to leave and let the decision be made without them if they do not support it but also do not want to stop the group

Implementing Consensus-based Decision Making

  1. Introduce the issues that are to be decided.
  2. Hold a discussionWhat are everyone’s’ concerns and ideas for solving the issue?
  3. Look for solutions or create a solution based on the ideas and concerns.
  4. Hold a discussion: Ask for amendments to make the proposal more acceptable.
  5. Begin voting to see if everyone agrees with the proposal. Parties may block, stand aside, have reservations, or agree. For the proposal to be implemented, all parties must reach a consensus.
  6. Implement the proposal and create actions items for the team.

Blocking Guidelines

  1. Blocking requires two (or more) people to disagree with the proposal for the block to take effect.
  2. Those who choose to block must be able to provide an alternative solution.
  3. Individuals who block must consider the group's goals and the benefits for all. Do not block based on individual preference. 
  4. The option of 'stand aside' must be provided.

Guidelines for Reaching Consensus

  • If you don't understand something, do not be afraid to say so.
  • Be willing to work towards the solution that's best for everyone, not just what's best for you. Be flexible and willing to give something up to reach an agreement.
  • Help to create a respectful and trusting atmosphere. Nobody should be afraid to express their ideas and opinions. Remember that we all have different values, backgrounds and behaviour and that we get upset by different things.
  • Explain your own position clearly. Be open and honest about the reasons for your view points. Express your concerns early on in the process so that they can be taken into account in any proposals.
  • Listen actively to what people are trying to say. Make an effort to understand someone's position and their underlying needs, concerns and emotions. Give everyone space to finish and take time to consider their point of view.
  • Think before you speak and listen before you object. Listen to other members' reactions and consider them carefully before pressing your point. Self-restraint is essential in consensus - sometimes the biggest obstacle to progress is an individual's attachment to one idea. If another proposal is good, don't complicate matters by opposing it just because it isn't your favourite idea! Ask yourself: "Does this idea work for the group, even if I don't like it the best?" or "Does it matter which one we choose?"
  • Don't be afraid of disagreement. Consensus isn't about us all thinking the same thing. Differences of opinion are natural and to be expected. Disagreements can help a group's decision, because with a wide range of information and opinions, there is a greater chance the group will find good solutions. Easily reached consensus may cover up the fact that some people don't feel safe or confident enough to express their disagreements.

Reference: https://www.seedsforchange.org.uk/shortconsensus

Other Governing Methods

Other governing methods are also possible to implement, but please keep in mind that all methods must be inclusive of all individuals, have a transparent process, and be democratic in nature.