Guest Hawk

Former Trustee

8 posts in this topic

My organization use the term Executive Session interchangeable. One is for the executives of the board to discuss topics for the BOD Meeting, a brainstorming session, getting input from the Executive Administrator etc. The second way it is used is to close the Open Session and go to Executive Session involving only the BOD discussing pending litigation, personnel issues etc. The by-laws only discusses the former. My idea that I'm tossing around is to leave the first, 'Executive Session' alone. I propose to name the second one involving the entire BOD 'Closed Session' to eliminate possible confusion and define it in the By-Laws. I have noticed in the threads that Executive Session and Closed Session are often used interchangably. Any input on my proposal?

 

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"Executive Session" is actually the the way Robert's Rules discusses the latter of your two uses. So my recommendation would be that you consider changing the first use to something like "officer planning session" or similar, to distinguish it from business meetings. Your proposal could have the effect of leaving confusion between your governing documents and Robert's Rules (which I am assuming is your parliamentary authority).

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Yes, we use Robert's Rules. The executive session attendees includes the executive board as well as the rest of the BOD. Can you help me to find the topic in Robert's Rules.

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1 hour ago, Guest Hawk said:

One is for the executives of the board to discuss topics for the BOD Meeting, a brainstorming session, getting input from the Executive Administrator etc.

"Executive session" can be applied to any kind of meeting. It just means that the proceedings of your meeting are secret. What you need are different names for the two kinds of meetings. Perhaps "Planning Session" and "Business Meeting."

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3 hours ago, Guest Hawk said:

Yes, we use Robert's Rules. The executive session attendees includes the executive board as well as the rest of the BOD. Can you help me to find the topic in Robert's Rules.

See "Executive Session" in RONR 11th ed., pp. 95-96.

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16 hours ago, Guest Hawk said:

. . .  I have noticed in the threads that Executive Session and Closed Session are often used interchangably. Any input on my proposal?

An executive session and a closed session are not the same thing. An executive session means the discussion must be kept secret by those in attendance. Attendance is usually limited to the members of the body which is meeting, but others may be invited or permitted to attend. Everyone in attendance is bound by the secrecy.

A closed meeting, on the other hand, generally means simply that the meeting is closed to non-members. It does not impose secrecy.

I agree with the other posters who have suggested that you stick to using the terms as they are normally used and defined in RONR .

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36 minutes ago, Richard Brown said:

An executive session and a closed session are not the same thing. An executive session means the discussion must be kept secret by those in attendance. Attendance is usually limited to the members of the body which is meeting, but others may be invited or permitted to attend. Everyone in attendance is bound by the secrecy.

A closed meeting, on the other hand, generally means simply that the meeting is closed to non-members. It does not impose secrecy.

I agree with the other posters who have suggested that you stick to using the terms as they are normally used and defined in RONR .

That might be going a tad too far.  It seems this presiding officer got the gist of a closed meeting:

Member Y, sensing that consideration of this question should be kept within the organization, interrupts Member X's speech on the pending resolution by rising "to a question of privilege relating to the assembly." As directed by the president, he states the question of privilege: 


MEMBER Y: Mr. President, I believe this is a question we should consider in a closed meeting. With apologies to our guests, I move that the open portion of this meeting be declared ended and that our guests be excused. (Second.) 


CHAIR: The chair rules that the question is one of privilege to be entertained immediately. It is moved and seconded that [stating the question on the motion to go into executive session]. 

RONR (11th ed.), pp. 229-230

That said, I prefer the standard term - executive session - as well. Less ambiguity.

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George, note that I used the modifier that a closed session "GENERALLY means . . . "

I agree that the term is not defined in RONR and that the use of the term should generally be avoided for the very reason that it has no precisely defined meaning and might mean different things to different people. It is quite common for organizations to have closed meetings in the sense that non-members are not permitted to attend, but the proceedings none-the-less are not secret. 

Speaking personally, when I hear that a meeting is a closed meeting, I do not interpret it to mean that the proceedings are secret unless something else is said to indicate otherwise, such as, "This is a closed meeting and what we discuss here is not to be disclosed to anyone outside of this meeting."

Even that statement, however, is not a correct explanation of the meaning of an executive session, as what is discussed in an executive session can also be discussed with other members of the body which met in executive session regardless of whether they were present at the meeting.

I agree that the term executive session should be used when the intent is that the proceedings remain secret. It has a defined meaning and is far less ambiguous. In fact, it's not ambiguous at all.

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