Parliamentary Procedure

Parliamentary procedure is the body of rules, ethics, and customs that govern meetings and various operations of the clubs and organizations around campus. The foundation for parliamentary procedure is allowing the majority of a body to make decisions effectively and efficiently, resulting in new policy. At the same time, the majority must ensure fairness to the minority, allowing each and every delegate or representation to voice an opinion. A parliamentary structure conducts business through motions, and those motions result in actions. Members bring issues or other business before the assembly in the form of main motions, or end this business through subsidiary or incidental motions. Parliamentary procedure also allows rules for nomination, voting, disciplinary actions, appeals, dues, and the drafting of organization charters, constitutions, and bylaws.

The most common procedural authority in the United States (and for almost all student governments) is Robert’s Rules of Order. Robert’s Rules is about conducting good meetings without any more formality than is absolutely necessary to protect the rights of everyone and keep things orderly. Some guidelines include:

  • Obtain the floor (the right to speak) by being the first to stand when the person speaking has finished; state Mr. /Madame Chairman. Raising your hand means nothing, and standing while another has the floor is out of order! Must be recognized by the chair before speaking.
  • Debate cannot begin until the Chair has stated the motion or resolution and asked “are you ready for the question?” If no one rises, the chair calls for the vote.
  • Before the motion is stated by the Chair (the question), members may suggest modification of the motion; the mover can modify as he pleases, or even withdraw the motion without consent of the seconder; if mover modifies, the seconder can withdraw the second
  • The “immediately pending question” is the last question stated by the Chair! Motion/Resolution – Amendment – Motion to Postpone.
  • The Member moving the “immediately pending question” is entitled to preference to the floor.
  • No member can speak twice to the same issue until everyone else wishing to speak has spoken to it once
  • All remarks must be directed to the Chair. Remarks must be courteous in language and deportment.
  • The agenda and all committee reports are merely recommendations! When presented to the assembly and the question is stated, debate begins and changes occur.

Parliamentary procedure is not just limited to SGA assembly. It can be used in any meeting for any campus organization. Parliamentary procedure allows for each person to have his or her voice be heard in a meeting without getting lost in the proceedings. It can be adapted to fit the needs of any organization, so it is important to know the basic rules.

If you have any questions regarding the Parliamentarian position or parliamentary procedure, please contact Tim Ahlersmeyer at and/or refer to the following documents.

Robert’s Rules of Order – Cheat Sheet

Robert’s Rules