Parliamentary Procedures

Guidelines for Parliamentary Procedures Used in the Faculty Senate Robert’s Rules of Order, Newly Revised shall be followed by the Senate in the conduct of its business in all cases in which they are applicable and in which they are not inconsistent with the Constitution and any special rules of order the Senate may adopt.

Purpose of Meetings

• The purposes of meetings are to share information in the form of reports (both oral and written) and to accomplish business of the Senate.

• Members should be able to point to the results of each meeting.

• In Robert’s Rules, general discussion of a topic is for “Committees of the Whole,” which should be scheduled as agenda items. The Faculty Senate tends to use Open Hearings or Open Meetings for this purpose, although it is sometimes done in Senate meetings.

Motions During Debates

All of the motions below require seconding and voting.

• To Amend the Day’s Agenda — debatable, requires majority vote.

• To Amend the Adopted Agenda — debatable, requires 2/3 majority vote.

• To Limit or Extend Debate — undebatable, requires 2/3 majority vote.

• To Amend a Motion — the Senate has special rules for consideration of certain motions after the adoption of an amendment. See below in “Modifications of Motions.”

• To Refer to a Committee — debatable, requires majority vote.

• To Postpone to a Specific Time — debatable, requires majority vote.

• To Postpone Indefinitely — debatable, requires majority vote. This motion seeks to kill the main motion without “a direct vote” on the motion. The effect is to extend debate.

• To Table — undebatable, requires majority vote.

• To Take from the Table — undebatable, requires majority vote. This motion is in order if business has transpired since the original act of placing the motion on the table. If this motion fails, it can be renewed at another time. 1

• To Call the Previous Question (a member first must be recognized by the chair) — undebatable, requires 2/3 vote. If the chair sees no further requests to speak, the chair may ask if the members are ready for the question. The chair may not call the question.

Modifications of Motions

• The “Friendly Amendment” — Modifications to the main motion may be made by the mover, unless a member objects. (Groups frequently refer to such accepted changes as friendly amendments. Robert’s does not use this expression.)

• To Amend a Motion (to add or strike or substitute words or phrases) — debatable, requires majority vote. (A motion can be made to amend a proposed amendment.)


• The mover of the motion (or the committee chair if the motion comes from a committee) speaks first on a motion.

• Members may speak only twice regarding the main motion. The second time should be after others who have not spoken have had their turns to speak.

• Guests may be recognized to speak by the chair.

• Debatable motions (listedabove)regarding a main motion open opportunities for those who have spoken to speak again.

• The mover also may speak last in a debate, if his or her opportunities have not been exhausted.

• Members may ask questions of a speaker, if the speaker consents to take them.

Special Senate Rules

• New Business — Any motion proposed by a member during “Introduction of New Business,” if seconded and in order, usually is referred to a committee. The Senate does not take up new business during the meeting in which it is proposed.

• Amendments to the Constitution and Bylaws — The Senate can only discuss and vote on these changes if they appear in final form on the Agenda, which must be circulated at least one week before the meeting. The impact of this rule is that if the proposed change is successfully amended, the final vote is delayed until the next meeting so that the new wording can appear on the Agenda. 2

• Amendments to the Faculty Handbook — Resolutions that propose to amend the Faculty Handbook can be voted on only if they meet the following criteria:

  1. A proposed Resolution that changes an existing policy will have one attachment (referred to as “Attachment 1”) that states the original policy and contains a strikethrough of everything to be deleted from and underlines everything to be inserted into the original policy. Additional attachments may be provided as appropriate.
  2. A Resolution that introduces a new policy will have an “Attachment 1” that states the proposed policy is new and not a modification of an existing policy. Attachment 1 will also contain the proposed policy.
  3. If the proposed Resolution is amended on the Senate floor, it shall not be voted on at that meeting unless a two-thirds majority of the Senate members present agree to vote on the final amended Resolution. If the two-thirds threshold is not met, it shall be placed on the agenda of the next Faculty Senate meeting for reconsideration and will include a modified “Attachment 1” that incorporates the changes of the amendment.