Tag Archives: voting

US16/17-21: Change to Article 3.11 Modification of the Senate By-Laws

Date of Notice: April 5, 2017

Current Status: Notice Given

Motion Type: Legislation

Sponsors: Stephanie McGee, OA Senator
Amanda Hatch, OA Senator
Keith Frazee, OA Senator
Laura Lee McIntyre, Faculty Senator
Craig Parsons, Faculty Senator


Motion

Section I

1.1. WHEREAS, the University Senate is a highly respected partner in shared governance at the University of Oregon, and;

1.2 WHEREAS, the Bylaws of the University of Oregon Senate provide the rules, processes, and procedures of the University Senate; and

1.3 WHEREAS, modifications to the governing documents of the University Senate should be held to the highest standard, and;

1.4 WHEREAS, Article 3.11 of the Bylaws of the University of Oregon Senate does not clearly define “two-thirds affirmative vote of the University Senate.”

Section II

2.1 THEREFORE BE IT MOVED, that Article 3.11 of the senate bylaws be amended as follows:

“3.11 Modifications to the Senate By-Laws. These by-laws may be altered by a two-thirds affirmative vote of the prescribed University Senate membership. Temporary alterations, such as allowing a visitor the right to the Senate floor, may be presented directly within a Senate meeting. Permanent modifications to these by-laws shall be proposed in the form of a formal motion and shall follow the procedures for motions as set forth in Article 3.7.”


Background and Rationale:

Article 3.11 of the Bylaws of the University of Oregon Senate states the “by-laws may be altered by a two-thirds affirmative vote of the University Senate.” The “two-thirds” requirement is not universally understood, interpreted by some to mean two-thirds of the members in attendance and by others as two-thirds of the total membership. This amendment provides the clarification that by-laws may only be modified by a “two-thirds affirmative vote of the prescribed University Senate membership.”

The Bylaws clearly state in Article 3 § 3.2 that the Senate shall follow Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised to govern the University Senate.  Section 3.2.1 states that any “deviations from Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised may be decided by the Senate and shall be presented to the Senate in the form of a motion and shall require a two-thirds affirmative vote to be adopted.”

Modifications to an organization’s governing documents should be held to the highest standard. Specifically in amending a previously adopted bylaw, we should make sure that the rights of all members continue to be protected.  The best way to insure this is to prevent bylaws from being changed without every member being able to weigh in on the proposal.  Robert’s Rules states that to amend the bylaws, the minimum vote required should be two-thirds of those present with previous notice or if notice is not given then a minimum of the majority of the entire membership.  The bylaws should not be changed as long as a minority greater than one-third disagrees with the proposal.

Interpreting Article 3.11 to mean that bylaw amendments can be approved by two-thirds of members in attendance, effectively means that as few as 19 senators (2/3 of a quorum) can amend the Senate’s governing documents. Nineteen senators represents approximately 1/3 of the total senate membership, creating an opportunity for a small number  (a minority) of senators to make substantive changes to carefully considered and well-established senate processes. Two-thirds of the “prescribed University Senate requires that 36 affirmative votes are necessary to amend the bylaws.

Voting Numbers Breakdown:

Quorum required in meetings            28        of         54 Senators (51.9% of membership)
2/3 of quorum in meetings                 19        of         54 Senators (35.2% of membership)
2/3 of prescribed membership           36        of         54 Senators (66.7% of membership)