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According to RR, what is the definition of "consensus"


LindaK
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I am president of a fiber arts nonprofit guild. 

The following is quoted from this Guild's ByLaws:

a) In conducting the affairs of this Guild, the final authority for procedure shall be Robert's Rules of Order Newly Revised, 10th edition, (2000), wherever applicable and not inconsistent with the Bylaws.  (This will be changed to reflect 11th edition in December.)

B) From our ByLaws: "In the absence or disability of the President, the Vice-Presidents in order of their rank shall perform all duties of the President. In accordance, a Vice-President shall have all of the powers and restrictions of the President."  (I had major surgery the week before the Board meeting).

c) All Officers are required to keep their Procedure Manuals currently updated and to make this information available to the President and their successors at the joint April Board meeting.'  (I have and follow the Procedure Manual, with a monthly task listed "will set the Agendas for the General and Board Meetings)

At the last Board Meeting, the following occurred:

Format of General Meeting: Discussion was held concerning the new format for our general meeting implemented by "me".

  • Time is too long to sit without a bathroom break
  • "Agenda Item", should it before or after the break? 
  • Board reached a consensus that "Agenda Item" should be after the break.

Here are my questions:

1) What is a "consensus" within an organization whose authority for procedure is within Roberts Rules?

2) Is there a legal reason I should reset the Agenda according to this "consensus".

Thank you.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 
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The word "consensus" is used in RONR only once, on the last page of the introduction, in a rather lengthy explanation of why it is not a good method for a deliberative assembly to use in making decisions.  Here is the full  text of that paragraph.  The word "consensus" is used only once, in the first sentence:

"Robert was surely aware of the early evolutionary development of parliamentary procedure in the English House of Lords resulting in a movement from "consensus," in its original sense of unanimous agreement, toward a decision by majority vote as we know it today. This evolution came about from a recognition that a requirement of unanimity or near unanimity can become a form of tyranny in itself. In an assembly that tries to make such a requirement the norm, a variety of misguided feelings—reluctance to be seen as opposing the leadership, a notion that causing controversy will be frowned upon, fear of seeming an obstacle to unity—can easily lead to decisions being taken with a pseudoconsensus which in reality implies elements of default, which satisfies no one, and for which no one really assumes responsibility. Furthermore, what is apparently taken to be the sense of the meeting may well be little more than a "least common denominator" of such generality as to contribute little to the solution of the practical problem involved, thereby leaving such matters to officers or staff or the meeting's organizers to work out according to their own intentions. Robert saw, on the other hand, that the evolution of majority vote in tandem with lucid and clarifying debate—resulting in a decision representing the view of the deliberate majority—far more clearly ferrets out and demonstrates the will of an assembly. It is through the application of genuine persuasion and parliamentary technique that General Robert was able to achieve decisions in meetings he led which were so free of divisiveness within the group. "   (Note:  "Robert", as used in the first sentence, refers to General Henry Robert).

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Read p 372-373.

Basically you present the proposed agenda where it is adopted by majority vote.  If the membership wants to make changes then your agenda can be amended by majority vote.  There is no requirement in RONR for you to change the agenda beforehand - "legally"  is a whole different issue you should address with an attorney.

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15 hours ago, LindaK said:

Here are my questions:

1) What is a "consensus" within an organization whose authority for procedure is within Roberts Rules?

2) Is there a legal reason I should reset the Agenda according to this "consensus".

1.) The term "consensus" in RONR means unanimous agreement, but the only place in RONR where this term appears is where the book says that it's a horrible way to conduct business. The basis for decision making in RONR is a majority vote, which means that more than half of the members present and voting vote in the affirmative.

2.) No. Nothing in RONR gives the board any authority to set the agenda for meetings of the general membership, and it appears that nothing in your rules does either. If the membership decides to change the agenda (or if the board wishes to change its own agenda), then your society will need to determine more difficult questions, such as whether the rule in your procedure manual is intended to strip the assembly of its authority to decide its own agenda, and whether this rule was validly adopted.

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