The Student Affairs Senate operates under Robert's Rules of Order, allowing meetings to be run efficiently and quickly. While SAS traditionally follows a simplified format of the Rules, the basic principles remain the same:
- Parliamentary procedure exists to facilitate the transaction of business and to promote cooperation and harmony.
- All members have equal rights, privileges, and obligations.
- The majority has the right to decide.
- The minority has rights which must be protected.
- A quorum must be present for the group to act.
- Only one question can be considered at any given time.
- No member can speak until recognized by the chair.
- The chair should be strictly impartial.
Motions and Amendments
Throughout a formal meeting, any issue of discussion or consideration is known as a "question." Whether the question under consideration takes the form of a motion, amendment, or an amendment to an amendment does not change the steps or procedure which is followed. In all cases, consider each topic as a new piece of legislation: just as you cannot vote on a new motion until the current motion has been decided, so too must you vote on an amendment before returning to the original motion. However, it is important to keep in mind that an amendment remains a separate question than the motion it amends. Voting affirmative on an amendment does not equate to voting affirmative on the main motion.
Additional guidelines, rules and tips to keep in mind:
- While a main motion (legislation such as a resolution or bill, but also voiced motions as introduced within the meeting) may be amended, and the amendment itself can be amended, the trail stops there. If further question arises, the amendment to the amendment shall be decided, at which point further discussion can resume regarding the amendment to the main motion.
- Robert's Rules of Order allow for various forms of motions, some of which may interrupt current discussion, while others may not. While SAS allows full use of parliamentary procedure, it is recommended that senators stay to a more simplified version that their peers are more likely to agree with.
When voting, a majority is usually required for the motion to be approved. In these situations, a voice vote is held, with all in favor of the motion saying "Aye," while all against say "Nay." The chair, the President of Student Affairs Senate, determines the majority and declares the motion carried or failed. In the case of a non-definitive voice vote (that is, the chair cannot tell which side, "Aye" or "Nay," carried more voices), he—or any other senator, regardless of decision from the chair—may rise to Division of the House.
If a motion requires more than a majority (e.g. two-thirds vote to end debate with further discussion pending), or when Division of the House has been called, a hand vote is called. In this situation, the chair requests affirmative and negative votes, as well as abstentions, if desired, by a count of hands.