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When the chair cancels a meeting in RONR, is it moot?


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Hi All,

Context: I chair my campus' student senate, and I'm looking to cancel the next meeting given that we've met the requirements outlined in our constitution about having two minimum meetings (Article II Section 4)

  • Article II, Section 4:
  • During the fall and spring semesters the Senate shall meet no fewer than two (2) times in each semester. The first meeting of each Semester shall be no later than the fourth (4th) week of the semester. The Senate may establish other meetings.

My question is: As the chairperson, if I cancel the meeting, is it final, in that the members cannot convene a meeting by petition (or some other means)? I'm not sure if Robert's Rules of Order specifies some protocol that can allow the chair's cancellation of a meeting to be overturned.

Thank you for your consideration!

Note: As you will find in the attached document, our constitution does not specify anything about meetings other than the excerpt I pasted above. 

SA Constitution .pdf

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Sidd M, I’ve got several questions.

1.  Has the meeting which you want to cancel already been scheduled? 

2.   If so, how, when and by whom (or what body) was it scheduled? 

3.  The constitution mentions adopting bylaws. Have any bylaws been adopted?

4.  is there anything in any of your other rules, such as the bylaws, standing rules or rules of order or a policy manual which provides for how additional meetings of the student Senate are called? If yes, what do those rules provide?   If not, how and by whom are such additional meetings of the student senate called?
 

 

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9 hours ago, Sidd M said:

As the chairperson, if I cancel the meeting, is it final, in that the members cannot convene a meeting by petition (or some other means)?

So far as I can tell, you can't cancel the meeting to begin with. We are told that the constitution provides that "The Senate may establish other meetings." Based on this, I presume that this meeting was scheduled by the Senate. If this is correct, only the Senate may cancel it unless your rules provide otherwise, which does not appear to be the case.

9 hours ago, Sidd M said:

I'm not sure if Robert's Rules of Order specifies some protocol that can allow the chair's cancellation of a meeting to be overturned.

Robert's Rules of Order doesn't have a protocol for the chair to cancel a meeting in the first place.

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@Sidd Magreeing with my colleagues, even if this meeting was scheduled by the Senate itself, all is not lost. There are still ways (well, at least one way) to accomplish your intended purpose of essentially canceling or postponing this particular meeting, but we need more information as to how this meeting was scheduled and really need for you to answer the questions that I asked in my first post. It will also help us to know if postponing or rescheduling this meeting is an option or if your objective is just simply not have any more meetings at all In this semester.

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Presumably, the student senate is an organelle of the academic institution.  While the information provided does not seem to authorize the chair to cancel a meeting, it is quite likely that the president of the institution can do so.  I would recommend the presiding officer of the senate make an appointment with the president of the academic institution to request the latter to cancel the meeting on the basis of his authority.

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24 minutes ago, Rob Elsman said:

Presumably, the student senate is an organelle of the academic institution.  While the information provided does not seem to authorize the chair to cancel a meeting, it is quite likely that the president of the institution can do so.  I would recommend the presiding officer of the senate make an appointment with the president of the academic institution to request the latter to cancel the meeting on the basis of his authority.

Based upon my own experience in student government, I would strongly recommend that the presiding officer of the senate should NOT do this if they wish to keep their position. I expect that inviting such intrusion from the university's administration into the Senate's affairs would not be welcomed by the Senate.

I am also not certain that the university's president would, in fact, have the authority to do this.

My advice is simply to hold the meeting at the appointed time. If the Senate wishes to immediately adjourn the meeting or adjourn it to a later time, it is free to do so. It could also decide at that time whether to cancel or reschedule any other future meetings which are currently scheduled, so long as it still holds the minimum number of meetings required under its rules.

Edited by Josh Martin
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In dealing with adjourned meetings, you might want to take a look here:  https://www.academia.edu/42254288/RONR_versus_Blizzards

And here:  https://www.academia.edu/42254625/Flexibility_of_Adjourned_Meetings

I do agree that the best policy is to have the meeting, but adjourn the meeting almost immediately.    You could establish an adjourned meeting using the motion Fix Time To Adjourn. 

 

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I have wanted to make the same suggestion that J.J. just made above to have a "pro forma" meeting at the time and place originally scheduled and then to immediately set an adjourned meeting using the motion "to fix the time to which to adjourn", but was waiting for more information from the Original Poster.   Doing that can be done without a quorum.  In fact, only one or two or at most three members need show up: One to call the meeting to order and to serve as chair, one to make the motion to set an adjourned meeting, someone to second it, then vote on it or adopt it by unanimous consent, and then adjourn.  Theoretically, only one member can do it all, but it is better to have two or three, such as perhaps the members of the Executive Committee. 

The drawback to that method is that it cannot be used to officially "cancel" the meeting.  It can be used only to re-schedule the meeting using the motion to fix the time to which to adjourn. However, if those who do appear at the meeting do not vote to set an adjourned meeting but instead merely call the meeting to order and then adjourn for lack of a quorum,  the meeting has been held as required by the rules and properly adjourned with no future meeting set.  This does, however, leave me wondering how another meeting can EVER be held unless there is a provision somewhere in the governing documents requiring the student senate to meet on a certain date or giving someone the authority to call the meeting.  We are told that the senate must meet at least twice each semester, but we haven't been told anything about how either of those two meetings get scheduled.  * (See edit in last paragraph)

I have a feeling there is some rule somewhere which either provides for the calling of meetings of the senate or sets a mandatory date for the first meeting of each semester.

Edited to add:  I see that Article II Section 3 of the constitution does provide that the vice president of the student body shall call the first meeting of the senate, but I don't see any provision  for calliing or setting any other meetings.  Here is the text of Article II, Section 3:  "Section 3A) The Vice President of SA shall convene a meeting of the Senate no later than fifteen (15) calendar days after assuming office. The Vice President shall chair this meeting and the first regular item of business shall be the election of the Senate Chair. Upon election, the Senate Chair shall assume office and preside over the election of such other officers as the Senate may choose to create

Edited by Richard Brown
Struck out last sentence of 2nd paragraph and added last paragraph
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13 hours ago, Sidd M said:

My question is: As the chairperson, if I cancel the meeting, is it final, in that the members cannot convene a meeting by petition (or some other means)? I'm not sure if Robert's Rules of Order specifies some protocol that can allow the chair's cancellation of a meeting to be overturned.

Unless you can come up with a rule allowing you to do so, a meeting can't be canceled unilaterally by the chair or other individual.

There would be no need to "overturn" anything.  Members could just show up at the appropriate time and place and hold the meeting--appointing, if necessary, a chair pro-tem to preside, should you, (or a vice-chair if any) fail to attend.

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@Sidd M I feel compelled to clarify my position somewhat.  I have been operating under the assumption that either the date set for the meeting has turned out to be a bad date for a large number of members or that a majority of the members see no need to meet at all. 

If that is not the case and you want to cancel the meeting for personal reasons but a large number of members still want to have the meeting, then it is probably best to have the meeting as scheduled.  You can still have someone move to set an adjourned meeting or simply to adjourn immediately after the meeting is called to order, but this is risky.  If a quorum is present and wants to have the meeting, the members can refuse to adjourn and can conduct whatever business is appropriate. 

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