Minute by Minute

Tyler Maule, ASWC Copy Editor

Though summaries and email updates often give adequate updates on ASWC’s doings, more exact details — who said what, how the votes fell, and why decisions were made — appear in the Senate Minutes. Like many formal gatherings, ASWC Senate meetings use Robert’s Rules of Order, a system of dialogue often used in governing groups to organize the proceedings. 

Every other week, the ASWC Senate meets at 7:00 Sunday evening in Memorial 321; anyone from the Whitman community can attend and even add their name to the Speakers’ List. After taking attendance and bringing the meeting to order, the President calls for a motion to approve the precious Senate’s minutes — except in the case of a roll call vote, a voting member of ASWC makes a motion that must be seconded and then approved by a majority of voting members present.

During Executive Council Updates, Committee Chairs present about their committees’ concerns, initiatives, and successes. Similarly, one senator from each year gives his/her respective Class Delegation Update.

Next, a voting member makes a motion to open, or begin discussing, an item on the agenda. All agenda items begin with the Speakers’ List — after an initial presentation by the first person on the list, subsequent speakers voice their opinions. While the Senate could immediately move to a vote on the topic, most issues are discussed further.  To acquire more detail on a subject or explore how it fared in committee, the Senate often turns to a timed question-and-answer session; to engage with multiple sides of an issue, the Senate often opens one of three kinds of debate.  “Formal debate” allows only elected members to participate, while “debate” includes all Senate members and “inclusive debate” extends to everyone in the room. Throughout the proceedings, incidental motions may be made such as “points of information,” which clarify objective details. When the Speakers’ List has been exhausted and the Senate has finished deliberating, they “move to previous question,” or take a roll-call vote on the issue at hand.

After finishing the formal agenda, members of the Senate sometimes add themselves to the General Speaker’s List make closing comments. Then, upon a final vote, Senate adjourns after a meeting of anywhere from 2 to 6 hours.  

To read more minutes, click below. 

Senate Minutes, 2015-2016