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asking a non member to speak


Don Singleton

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At a church conference and using the Roberts Rule of Order, during a meeting today a non member was shaking his head in either disagreement or disbelief concerning a discussion. The moderator having seen the shaking of his head ask the non member if he had any thing to say. My question is this, does the moderator have the freedom to recognize the non member and ask him is he has anything to add to the discussion?

 

Thanks

Don

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No, the moderator does not have that authority.  The assembly can grant a non-member permission to speak, but by a 2/3 vote to suspend the rules, since speaking in debate is a fundamental right of membership, and non-members don't have it.

 

(That 2/3 vote can be achieved by general consent, which can handle granting that permission more smoothly than taking a vote, if the assembly is amenable.)

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And if you are not discussing a pending motion but just talking to one another in the meeting (you really shouldn't be, but that is another story), a majority vote is sufficient to invite the guest to speak.

 

Hmm ... John, where does it say that?

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At a church conference and using the Roberts Rule of Order, during a meeting today a non member was shaking his head in either disagreement or disbelief concerning a discussion. The moderator having seen the shaking of his head ask the non member if he had any thing to say.

 

Sounds to me like the moderator may have been a bit snarky. As when a teacher, seeing a student whispering to another student, asks if he has anything he'd like to share with the class. The moderator should have ignored the head-shaker.

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Sounds to me like the moderator may have been a bit snarky. As when a teacher, seeing a student whispering to another student, asks if he has anything he'd like to share with the class. The moderator should have ignored the head-shaker.

 

I'm not so sure I agree. The method by which the non-member was given permission to speak was improper, but giving him permission may have been the best thing to do. Non-members can stir up trouble behind the scenes just as easily as members. It is better for them to say what they're going to say in front of everyone, so that the situation can be addressed, than it is for them to talk about "what I would've done" after the fact.

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 . . . giving him permission may have been the best thing to do. Non-members can stir up trouble behind the scenes just as easily as members. It is better for them to say what they're going to say in front of everyone, so that the situation can be addressed, than it is for them to talk about "what I would've done" after the fact.

 

Firstly, the non-member never asked to speak so permission isn't an issue. Secondly, who cares what a non-member does "after the fact"?

 

The world is filled with non-members.

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Hmm ... John, where does it say that?

 

Well... it's kinda subtle and inferential (which is a sophisticated way of saying it doesn't actually say that, in so many words, but...); on 471, discussing minutes, a "guest speaker" is mentioned.  Since a guest can be excluded from a meeting by a majority vote, you could turn that around and say that a guest can be invited to the meeting to speak by a similar majority vote.  Or the extant guest may be told he/she can/cannot speak.

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Firstly, the non-member never asked to speak so permission isn't an issue. Secondly, who cares what a non-member does "after the fact"?

 

The world is filled with non-members.

 

It's true that the world is filled with non-members, but very few of them show up at church business meetings. (It's hard enough to get members to show up.) A non-member who is showing up at church services and attending business meetings has a lot greater opportunity to cause trouble than the average non-member.

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A non-member who is showing up at church services and attending business meetings has a lot greater opportunity to cause trouble than the average non-member.

 

Maybe he just went along with his wife (who was a member) and, for all we, know, he was listening to a World Cup soccer game on his iPod and was shaking his head because his team was losing. I still see no reason for the chair to ask a non-member if he wants to speak simply because he's shaking his head. I'd think the chair had better things to do.

 

And this was just one church conference. There's no evidence that he was showing up at multiple services and multiple business meetings.

 

Leave the poor guy alone.

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I'm not so sure I agree. The method by which the non-member was given permission to speak was improper, but giving him permission may have been the best thing to do.

I believe the moderator acted properly and in order. He simply ask the non-member if he had anything to add to the discussion. IF the non-membr had responded with a "yes, may I speak" then the moderator may have ask the membership if they had any objection. But, as Timothy has said, by simply asking him if he'd like to address the membership may have been the best thing to do. First it is not very respectful for ANYONE to be shaking their head, member or non-member and secondly, by implication they are speaking whether verbally or not. So, I agree and I do not see where the moderator violated any rule.

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I believe the moderator acted properly and in order. He simply ask the non-member if he had anything to add to the discussion. IF the non-membr had responded with a "yes, may I speak" then the moderator may have ask the membership if they had any objection. But, as Timothy has said, by simply asking him if he'd like to address the membership may have been the best thing to do. First it is not very respectful for ANYONE to be shaking their head, member or non-member and secondly, by implication they are speaking whether verbally or not. So, I agree and I do not see where the moderator violated any rule.

 

I guess it would depend on what happened after the moderator asked him, which the OP did not tell us.

 

In general though, the moderator should limit recognition of persons present to members, unless the speaker is on the program, or  a member has sought and received permission for a nonmember to speak, or a member succeeds in suspending the rules to allow the nonmember to speak in debate. 

 

The chair should not treat eye rolling or head shaking as indications that the person is seeking recognition, whether a member or not.

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First we observe that the moderator only ask the non-member if he'd like to speak which is not to say he granted permission so we are being presumptive by assuming he would have said, "speak on." That never happened. So, we are not answering the initial question by saying "in general the moderator should limit recognition" or by saying "the chair should have ask the non-member to stop shaking his head." the initial question was, "does the moderator have the freedom to recognize the non member and ask him is he has anything to add to the discussion?"

 

We cannot assume what the moderator would have done after the fact, which is a whole different question. So, if the answer is that he was wrong by simply asking the question, please quote the rule that says he was wrong - not the rule that may apply after the fact but only the one that a moderator does not have the authority to ask a non-member a question.

 

I am playing the devils advocate here because sometimes I am guilty of jumping to a conclusion to quickly without first looking at the rule.

 

Interesting question and discussion, thank you all for your input.

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 . . . the initial question was, "does the moderator have the freedom to recognize the non member and ask him is he has anything to add to the discussion?"

 

No. It's up to the assembly (the members present) whether guests (i.e. non-members) are permitted to attend and/or speak. As noted, the chair could ask for unanimous consent (i.e. "If there's no objection . . . ") but let's remember that, in this case, the guest didn't ask for permission to speak. He didn't even indicate that he wanted to speak. He simply shook his head. The chair should not be looking for signals that a guest might be harboring a secret desire to say something.

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First we observe that the moderator only ask the non-member if he'd like to speak which is not to say he granted permission so we are being presumptive by assuming he would have said, "speak on." That never happened. So, we are not answering the initial question by saying "in general the moderator should limit recognition" or by saying "the chair should have ask the non-member to stop shaking his head." ... .

 

Interesting question and discussion, thank you all for your input.

 

Mr. Singleton.  Suppose there's a knock on your door.  You go to the door, open it, and observe someone there on your doorstep.

 

One of the things you can do is ask the person, "Would you like to come in?"

 

It is your contention, if this is a parallel example, that you have not invited him in, but have asked him, abstractly, what some preference of his is.  Like, when you responded to the knock, if you had opened the door, seen him, and asked him "In the event that you enter, which has not been determined, and we serve refreshments, would you like a sachertorte, strawberries and cream, something else, or nothing?"  Leaving him answering a factual question, but still on the stoop.

 

Mr. Singleton.  If the visitor replies "Yes" in reply to "Would you like to come in?" it is your contention that he should not then come in, but wait for you to say, "Please come in"?

 

I assume you're writing an etiquette book, but I'll hesitate to buy it, because I don't have a derrick to pick it up with.

 

And oh yes, very good discussion.  Reading along, I was occasionally apprehensive that it might descend into rancor and /or strife; but I should have known better with the world's premier Internet parliamentary forum.

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