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Meeting Procedures
RAC

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT THE CONDUCT OF MEETINGS

Q. - What rights do I have, as a member, at RAC members' meetings?

A. - The ideal circumstance in a formal meeting is when all members are familiar with the RAC Constitution and Robert's Rules of Order. The latter was written to maintain parliamentary order and thus avoid the chaos that could easily occur when important decisions are to be made which affect the participants. Since it is unrealistic to expect all members to be familiar with those complex rules, the Chair has the obligation to be familiar with them. The Chair should always act as the guardian of the rights of all members (both present and absent) especially the rights of the minority.

Here is a listing of Member Rights which apply to a members' meeting

(Please note that the following are subject to the constraints of the legislation as spelled out on a previous page.

- To propose any legitimate motion which is pertinent to the organization and to explain or discuss that motion, or any matter properly before the assembly

- To hold the floor, once legally obtained, until finished speaking, unless accepting a question from the Chair

- To "call to order" (raise a "point of order"), if necessary

- To rise to a parliamentary inquiry (raise a question of procedure to the Chair), if necessary

- To rise for information (must be directed to the Chair)

- To appeal from a decision of the Chair to that of the Assembly

[adapted from Guide and Commentary by Rachel Vixen, included with Robert's Rules of Order by General Henry M. Robert - Copyright 1967 by Jove Publications]

Q. - What are some do's and don'ts which apply to me as a member, at RAC members' meetings?

A. - The most important answer to this question is that you should be aware what type of business may be conducted at the meeting you are attending and not attempt to raise business which is not appropriate. These and the other FAQs on the RAC web site have been written for your guidance and to avoid the Chair having to rule your motion out of order.

Member Meeting Do's

  • Obtain the floor by addressing the Chair and obtaining recognition before speaking.
  • Stand, if possible, when speaking.
  • Avoid speaking on a subject unless it has been brought before the assembly by a motion.
  • Avoid emotional language or dealing with personalities in debate.
  • When speaking, stay focused on the question then before the assembly
  • Yield the floor to a Point of Order or other interruption by the Chair. (You may appeal such a decision to the assembly)
  • Avoid disturbing or interrupting a speaker who legally has the floor.

Member Meeting Don'ts

  • - Don't be late for the meeting. You may be needed to make up a quorum.
  • - Don't sit in the rear. Leave those seats for latecomers so they can be seated with minimum disruption.
  • - Don't address a female Chair as "Chairlady". The term is "Madame Chair"
  • - Don't say "I move you". Say "I move…"
  • - Don't say "I make a motion to …..". Say "I move to ….."
  • - Don't stand or wait to obtain the floor when seconding a motion.
  • - Don't stand while another is speaking.
  • - Don't fail to take part in debate if you have a viewpoint to express, or want information.
  • - Don't claim the floor the second time if there are others waiting to speak the first time.
  • - Don't be silent during a debate and then criticize after the meeting.
  • - Don't speak on a motion while the vote is being taken or counted.
  • - Don't carry on a conversation with your neighbour while someone is speaking
  • - Don't accept an office unless you are willing to accept those responsibilities.
  • - Don't use your knowledge of parliamentary procedure to disrupt a meeting.
  • - Don't leave a meeting before the meeting is adjourned. You may be needed for a quorum, or an important motion may come up at the last moment.

[adapted from Guide and Commentary by Rachel Vixen, included with Robert's Rules of Order by General Henry M. Robert - Copyright 1967 by Jove Publications]

Q. - Can you provide examples of the rights and privileges of the Chair at RAC members' meetings?

A. - It is far beyond the scope of these FAQs to cover the full extent of Robert's Rules of Order which defines parliamentary procedure. Here are the four major privileges of the Chair at a members' meeting:

- To raise objection to consideration of a motion (does not require Seconder; is not debatable; must not be done during or after debate; requires one-thirds vote by assembly to sustain the motion, if appealed to the assembly).

- To use "general consent" which saves much time when routine matters are considered. This is in the form: "If there is no objection, we will …..". In event of an objection, a vote must be taken.

- To personally debate motions before the assembly, if essential, but must surrender the Chair to the first vice-president until the vote has been taken.

- To preside during nominations and elections, even if the person holding the Chair is a candidate. When the sole nominee, the Chair should yield to the first vice-president to put the question to a vote.

[adapted from Guide and Commentary by Rachel Vixen, included with Robert's Rules of Order by General Henry M. Robert - Copyright 1967 by Jove Publications]

Q. - Can you provide examples of Do's and Don'ts for the Chair at RAC members' meetings?

A. - Here is a list of "do's" for the Chair at a members' meeting. These are shown so members will know what to expect of the Chair:

- Acquire a working knowledge of parliamentary law and procedure and a thorough understanding of the Constitution and by-laws, and other standing rules of the organization
- Appear at the rostrum a few minutes before the meeting is schedules to begin
- Have on hand a list of committees as a guide in naming new appointments
- Preside and maintain order
- Decide and explain all questions of order
- Announce all business
- Become informed on all communications before the meeting
- Entertain only one motion at a time and to state all motions properly
- Stand while stating the question (motion) and taking a vote
- Permit no debate of a motion before it is seconded and stated
- Encourage debate and assign the floor to those properly entitled to it (No member may speak twice if there are others who wish to claim the floor)
- Put all motions to a vote and announce the result.
- Cast your vote to break a tie vote, or abstain from voting, if wiser.
- Enforce the rules of decorum and discipline
- Be absolutely fair and impartial
- Extend every courtesy to opponents of a motion, even if the motion is one that the Chair favours.
- Show appreciation to officers and committee chairs for devoted service

Here is a list of "don'ts" for the Chair at a members' meeting. These are shown so members will know what to expect of the Chair:

- Don't fail to start a meeting on time. If no quorum is present, start the meeting anyhow; business can be postponed until late arrivals make up a quorum.
- Don't talk more than necessary, when presiding.
- Don't stand during debate or the reading of a report.
- Don't fail to clearly state the question (motion) and the name of the member making the motion.
- Don't take part in debate while holding the Chair. If participation is essential, yield the Chair to a vice-president. Do not return to the Chair until after the vote is taken on that question.
- Don't allow members to deal in personalities or improper language during debate
- Don't say "You are out of order". It should be "The motion (or remark) is out of order". The only time a person can be out of order is if they start making a speech before recognition by the Chair, or are not a member in good standing and therefore have no right to the floor.
- Don't fail to explain why something is out of order, and what is now in order, such as "Is there any further discussion on the question?"
- Don't say "I think ….". It should be "The Chair thinks….", etc
- Don't lose patience, calmness, objectivity or impartiality

[adapted from Guide and Commentary by Rachel Vixen, included with Robert's Rules of Order by General Henry M. Robert - Copyright 1967 by Jove Publications]