Parliamentary Procedure

**The following is not an exhaustive account of all rules of order nor is it strictly in line with all of Robert’s Rules. This is a summary of the basic rules of order needed to function within our Assembly in accordance with the Charter and Bylaws of the GSA.

Order of Business

Business is what we conduct in a meeting, and the following is the order in which business is conducted in the Assembly. Its general structure comes from the Bylaws.

  1. Special Guest Presentations.
  2. Approval of minutes. Minutes are deemed to be approved unless objections or amendments are raised.
  3. Approval of agenda. Agenda is deemed to be approved unless amended.
  4. Committees Reports. Reports will proceed in the sequence: Steering Committee, Graduate School Standing Committees, Assembly Standing Committees, Graduate School Ad-hoc Committees, Assembly Ad-hoc Committees. Ideally these reports are purely informational, but motions may be entertained during this portion of the meeting provided that discussion is kept to a minimum.
  5. Appointments. Offices are filled and appointments are made to committees.
  6. Old Business. The Secretary reads motions on the table in the order they were added. Motions are moved from the table to the floor.
  7. New Business. All new business must be emailed to the Chair in advance of the meeting, but new business may be added from the floor at the Chair’s discretion. This is when the Assembly addresses new motions pertaining to the function of the Assembly or calling for specific action (e.g., elections, referenda, official positions, etc..
  8. Concerns from the Floor. This is when representatives may voice comments and concerns that are not relevant, and thus “out of order” during other parts of business.
  9. Adjournment. This is technically part of business and must be conducted as a motion.

The Minutes

The minutes are made available here. Requests to change the minutes should be sent to the Secretary no later than 24 hours before a meeting.

The Agenda

The agenda for each GSA meeting will be emailed out no later than 48 hours in advance of the meeting to all representatives. Representatives are expected to look over the agenda and email requests to change the agenda to the Chair and Secretary no later than 24 hours before the meeting.

The agenda will include all business that is due to come off the table and all new business. While there is no strict rule, if it is at all possible, new business should be emailed to the Chair approximately 1 week before an Assembly meeting so that the Steering Committee has a chance to determine where it best belongs on the agenda.

Staying in Order

If business has a structured order to it, then there must be a manner of keeping representatives in line with that order so as to preserve the meeting structure and flow. With that said, all representatives are expected to do the following to stay in order:

  1. Speak only when called on. Assembly Bylaws do not dictate that you are entitled to speak unless acknowledged by the chair, but, in general practice, a queue is kept. If you speak out of turn, you may be told you have broken from the rules of order and business will continue with the next speaker in the queue.
  2. Stay within the Scope of Business on the Floor. This is key. Make sure that your comment pertains to the discussion at hand. If discussion has finished on a topic, you may not continue it by getting your name in the speaking queue for the next motion.

Sergeant at Arms

The GSA does not elect a Sergeant at Arms to maintain order during meetings, rather, it has decided that the Vice Chair will play this role. The Vice Chair is thus responsible for updating the speaking queue during discussion and settling questions of order.


Each piece of business conducted takes the form of a motion and is subsequently debated and voted on by the Assembly.


Each motion that is debated receives a previously allotted number of minutes for debate. The member initiating the motion speaks first. The Chair asks for a rebuttal. Within reason, we strive that all members wishing to speak about the motion receive the opportunity to speak before any one member speaks for a second time.


The GSA cannot vote on a motion on the floor unless it has achieved quorum, as defined by the GSA Charter (50% of representatives). Most motions require a majority vote of the assembly, but there are certain exceptions to this rule. These along with other special motions are included in the following sections.

Procedural Motions

The following is a list of motions that will prove useful to you in your time on the GSA. The descriptions include the types of the motions, typical wording for how they are made, their purposes, and how they are enacted.



To Enact Motion

Main Motion

“I move that…”

To take action on behalf of the body

Second needed. Debatable. Requires majority vote.

A main motion begins in by a representative saying that they “move” for something to occur. The chair may also call for a motion by saying he/she would like to “entertain a motion for…” A representative may then choose to “move” for what the chair has requested or simply say “so moved.” The motion must then be seconded by another representative who says, “second” to indicate his/her support.

Privileged Motions

Privileged motions have to do with the rights or needs of the organization. They outrank all other motions and have rank among themselves.



To Enact Motion

Call for orders of the Day


Chair asks if there are any objections to the agenda.

Asks Assembly to stick to the agenda

Not debatable; approved unless there is an objection, requires 1/3 to sustain.



“I move to adjourn”

End of meeting

Second needed. Not debatable. Not amendable. Meeting closes unless there is an objection, otherwise immediately voted upon and requires majority vote.

Subsidiary Motions

Subsidiary motions are applied to other motions. They rank below privileged motions. They are as follows:



To Enact Motion

Table Current Business


“I move to table the current business…” – Indefinitely or a set amount of time.

To lay one matter aside temporarily so that a more urgent matter can be considered.

Second needed. Not debatable. Not amendable. Requires majority vote.

Call the Question


“I move the previous question” “I call the question”

Closes debate and forces vote.

Second needed. Not debatable. Not amendable. Requires 2/3 vote.

Motion to Limit or Extend Debate


“I move that debate be limited to (or end at)…”

Limits or extends debate.

Second needed. Not debatable. Not amendable. Requires 2/3 vote.

Motion to postpone to a definite time


“I move that debate we postpone consideration of this question to…”

Changes the order of business on the agenda.

Second needed. Debatable. Amendable. Requires majority vote.

Motion to refer


“I move that we refer the question of… to… (name of group) for… (further study)”

Another group considers the motion and may change or modify the motion and then present it to the assembly.

Second needed. Debatable. Amendable. Requires majority vote.



“I move to amend the motion by…”

Used to change a motion. Change must be related to the subject of the motion.

Second needed. Debatable. Amendable. Requires majority vote.

Incidental Motions

Incidental motions are incidental to the pending question. They must be disposed of before action is taken on the question from which they arise. They are as follows:



To Enact Motion

Point of order


“Point of order”

A question about the process or a particular motion. Typically to call attention to a mistake in parliamentary procedure or a question of Scope based on the Charter and Bylaws.

The member addresses the Chair. She/he need not be recognized before speaking, She/he may interrupt a speaker who has the floor. Automatic if granted by the Chair. No second needed. Not debatable. Not amendable. No vote.

Point of information


“Point of information”

To ask about the particular motion.


Parliamentary Inquiry


“Parliamentary Inquiry”

To ask about the particular motion.


To verify the accuracy of a vote



A request to vote again if results of first vote are in doubt.

No second needed. Not debatable. Not amendable. No vote.

To change the type of voting


“I move the vote to be taken by (acclamation, hands, secret ballot).”

A request to vote again if results of first vote are in doubt.

Second needed. Not debatable. Amendable. Requires majority vote.