Roberts Rules

Robert’s Rules of Order

  • The Staff Senate President (Chair) or his/her designee conducts the meeting.
  • The Agenda is followed.
  • Wait for recognition from the Chair before speaking.
  • Only one person speaks at a time.
  • Issues, not personalities, are debated.
  • Improper/inappropriate language is never used.
  • A motion is a concise proposal for a specific action or stand.
  • A motion that is long or detailed is a resolution.   Since a resolution may affect other committees and/or the Staff Senate Bylaws, it must be submitted to the Resolution and Bylaw Committee in advance of the meeting to be titled, circulated to affected committees, and distributed to Senators before the Staff Senate meeting.
  • Be concise.
  • Be positive and avoid “not”.
  • Put in writing, if very long or detailed.   (A resolution!)  Resolution Information
  • Seconding the motion doesn’t mean you agree with the motion, but you agree it should be discussed.
  • A seconding of the motion is not necessary when the main motion comes from a committee.
  • A motion is not debatable until it has been formally placed before the Senate.
  • Only address the pending motion.
  • Maker of the motion gets to speak first.  The maker of the motion is prohibited from speaking against the motion, but he/she may withdraw the motion.
  • State your stance, for or against, before stating your side. Try to think out your points before speaking, and focus on major reasons.  Each person gets to speak once before a person takes their second turn.
  • Amendments must be voted on before the motion is voted on.  Amendments to the motion must have the approval of a majority of the Senators present.
  • After all who wish to speak have been heard, a Senator may call for closure of debate.
  • General Consent: If Chair believes everyone will agree.  
  • Formal Vote:  If there is at least one objection, it will go to a formal vote.  “Aye” or “No” is stated.   If vote is unclear, do a counted vote.
  • Motion is either adopted or lost.   When a motion is approved, it is not a suggestion; it is implemented!

Six Steps to Process a Motion   

1.      Make a Motion

2.      Second the Motion

3.      Chair States the Motion

4.      Members Debate the Motion

5.      Vote

6.      Results of Vote Announced

Types of Motions and Terminology

Resolutions:  A very formal motion. A resolution is used when the motion is of great importance or is very long. Information in the preamble and resolving clauses needs to be included.

  • State “I move the adoption of the following resolution….”
  • Resolving clauses are the most important part of the resolution, thus they are open first to discussion and amendments. After debate of resolving clauses is concluded, the preamble (“whereas” clauses) is open for debate and amendment. 

Call for Orders of the Day: Call to get back to following the meeting agenda.

Table a Motion: Temporarily stop debate of a motion.  For example, if a guest speaker showed up while we were mid-debate, we would motion to lay the current motion(s) on the table.

Take from the Table: Previously tabled discussions are re-opened for discussion.

Postpone Definitively: Pause debate until a defined date/time.

Postpone Indefinitely: Kills the motion.

Move the Previous Question: Call for vote.

  • Must specify if it is for the immediately pending motion or all pending motions.
  • Must be seconded and 2/3 vote before going to vote.

Limit or Extend Limits of Debate: Lengthen or shorten standard debate time.

Motion to Refer to a Committee: Should specify whom and by when the specific tasks should be completed.   

Amend or Modify an existing motion. 

Point of Information: Used to request information in order to better understand what is being presented.

Point of Order: Rules not being followed.  Once called, state why you are calling “point of order.”  Chair can decide if it is reasonable or may take it to a vote.

Suspend the Rules:  For example, if you wanted to move to another agenda topic that is later on to address a topic out of order of the agenda.

Division of the Question:  Move to split a motion if more than one topic, even though related, is being addressed in a stated motion.

Parliamentary Inquiry: Ask a question of whether or not we are following Robert’s Rules and/or bylaws.

Withdraw the Motion: Useful if one’s mind is changed, and we don’t want to vote.

Motion to Reconsider: Go back and debate something previously adopted or lost.  If a motion has been adopted and any part of the motion’s provisions has been executed, it’s too late to reconsider the vote.  The Senate may take a second look at almost anything but can save a lot of time if Senators use the right motion instead of “reconsidering” after a motion has passed or failed.

Rescind/Annul/Repeal: To rescind a motion requires a 2/3 vote.

Yield:  Used by a Senator when he/she is called upon but his/her question or comment has already been addressed.