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Robert's Rules FAQ:


What is Robert’s Rules of Order?

Robert’s Rules of Order is a widely used book of parliamentary procedure, that sets standardized ways of running business meetings. 


How does Robert’s Rules of Order relate to my organization’s governing documents?

Robert’s Rules of Order is considered below any governing documents of your organization, including the rules of any body it is used in. If the governing documents contradict Robert’s Rules in any way, the governing documents hold priority. 


Why is Robert’s Rules of Order useful?

Business meetings are a core part of transparency and accountability via a democratic process, and Robert’s Rules is essential in maintaining efficient and effective business meetings. They ensure that everyone’s voice can be heard, but the majority can still conduct business without being bogged down in endless debate. Furthermore, their standardized use across millions of organizations reduces the need to become familiar with each organization's unique and individual policies and procedures. 


What should I do if I have a question about a parliamentary procedure or my governing documents?

First and foremost, you should contact whatever authority exists within your student government to provide advice and resolve disputes. The SUNY Student Assembly’s Parliamentarian can also provide advice, but their opinions are not in any way binding on your student government, and only serve as a supplementary opinion.

What should I include when contacting the SUNY Student Assembly Parliamentarian with a question?

Be sure to include a thorough explanation of the situation, and all relevant documents, including your student government's constitution, bylaws, and any other policies that may have bearing on the situation. Also, always keep in mind that the opinions of the Student Assembly Parliamentarian are not binding on any student government, and only serve as supplementary advice. 


What does my student government have the authority to do?

State-operated campus student governments have significantly more autonomy than most community college student governments. State-operated campus student governments have full authority to govern their internal operations, within some limits set by SUNY. However, no student government can compel their campus to take any action. If the students of your campus want the campus to make a change, they must advocate for it and find a way to convince the campus to make that change. 


How should I use my power as a member of my student government's legislature to advocate for the issues I care about?

The powers available to particular members or officers varies from campus to campus, but generally follow the same form. Legislative business meetings facilitate the operation of the rest of the organization, and ensure accountability, transparency, and create a framework for robust discussion. However, they are not the end-all-be-all. Almost always, just passing a resolution will not result in any change whatsoever. Most change happens through extensive and sustained dialogue with campus administration, which usually takes the form of small meetings in some conference room most students will never see. Members of legislative bodies should therefore focus on ensuring the student government is operating as best it can be, and is taking these meetings to advocate for the issues they care about. 

Parliamentary Resources

How to navigate the archive:


The Resolutions Archive is a database of all resolutions introduced to the Executive Committee or the General Assembly. Each resolution is authored and endorsed by members of the Executive Committee, delegates to the Assembly, or students of any SUNY Institution requesting an action of the SUNY Student Assembly. This database includes all resolutions put forward; not all of which passed. 


Resolutions are marked based on the body they were submitted to, their term, their order of introduction, and what resulted from their proposal:

  • GA- General Assembly

  • EC- Executive Committee

  • 1617- the 2016-2017 term

  • 1920- the 2019-2020 term

  • -67 the 67th resolution introduced that year

  • -32 the 32nd resolution introduced that year

  • (P) - the resolution passed

  • (F) - the resolution failed

  • (O) - other (tabled, referred to committee, etc.)

  • (U) - unknown

Resolutions are organized chronologically, by term and meeting (2017-2018, January EC). Folders, agendas, and minutes are labeled with their date (YYYY.MM.DD - 2020.02.15), the location and month for ECs (February EC - SUNY Cortland) or semester for conferences (Fall Conference - Albany) to assist with search-ability.


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