Guide to the APX Convention
This document is meant to be an informal guide to how the business of Convention works and does not supercede the Constitution or By-laws, any standing rules or established procedure.
Convention is the annual meeting of the membership represented by delegates, during which policies, goals, and direction are established for the Alpha Rho Chi Fraternity. The governing powers of National Conventions are established by Article V of the Constitution and the procedures and duties of the Officers are described under Articles I through VI of the By-Laws.
When in session, the National Convention of Alpha Rho Chi holds executive, legislative and judicial authority over the Fraternity. In principle, the Grand Council steps aside, and the chapters and alumni associations, through their delegates, are empowered to make decisions for the welfare of the Fraternity.
The Convention is composed one delegate from each active chapter and alumni association in “good standing.” In addition, the Convention elects a President and Seecretary. All members of the fraternity are entitled to attend.
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- The Delegates
- Convention Officers
- Typical Order of Business
- Election of Grand Council Officers
- Selection of Convention Sites
Before the meeting is called to order, delegates must present their credentials to the Credentials Committee. The credentials document certifies that the delegate is authorized to represent the chapter or alumni association. The Credentials Committee also determines whether the delegate, and his/her chapter or alumni association have satisfied all necessary requirements regarding status of their organization, and is in “good standing” with the Fraternity (state incorporation status is current, dues have been paid, reports are up to date, etc.).
Once the Convention is called to order, the Credentials Committee reads its report and the qualified delegates are seated. After the initial roll call, the Convention may elect to seat additional delegates.
Members of the Grand Council attend as regular members, with no vote in Convention (unless chosen to represent their alumni associations).
The officers of the Convention are facilitators of the meetings, and despite their important role, are expected to remain impartial and do not have a vote on the Convention floor.
Elected by the Convention delegates, the Convention President presides over the proceedings and ensures that order and harmony is maintained during the business sessions. For all intents and purposes, he or she is President of Alpha Rho Chi during the sessions and is charged with keeping discussion and debate on track. Officially, all motions, requests, and debate are addressed to the President.
The President is responsible for making sure everyone who wishes to speak has the opportunity. However, when speakers begin to duplicate what other have said (e.g., “I agree with what Brother — said and…”) the President may opt to interrupt and say, “We’ve already heard that viewpoint. Unless you have something new to add please relinquish the floor to the next speaker.”
Similarly, the President may need to intervene to keep discussion on-topic and stick to the agenda.
Like an orchestra conductor, the President makes sure that all voices are heard, none unfairly dominate, and the tune remains recognizable.
Elected by the Convention delegates, the Convention Secretary is charged with keeping a written record of all proceedings of the Convention. In addition, all official reports and resolutions are submitted to the Secretary for inclusion in the final minutes of the convention.
The Secretary is chairperson of the Resolutions Committee (see Motions, below). With the help of volunteers on the committee, the Secretary compiles the motions into a logical order and sees that copies are prepared for the delegates before the second day’s session.
Usually aided with a laptop computer or swift notation, the Secretary has the daunting task of keeping everyone’s name straight, recording a representative sample of discussion and debate, and keeping up with frequent amendments to the motions on the floor. The Secretary can’t be afraid to speak up if he feels he’s missed something. For the benefit of the delegates, the Secretary also reads the motions aloud before votes are cast.
After adjournment of Convention, the Secretary has 2-3 weeks to deliver the completed minutes (approved and signed by the Convention President and Secretary) to the WGS for distribution to the chapters and alumni associations. The Grand Council does not “approve” the Convention Minutes but may suggest typographical corrections.
Appointed by the Convention President, the Parliamentarian advises the President as an authority on procedural issues. The Parliamentarian must have a strong grasp of Roberts Rules of Order. The Parliamentarian usually assists the President in recognizing speakers during debate.
Appointed by the Convention President, the Sergeant at Arms assists the Convention officers in maintaining order and decorum in the room.
During esoteric discussions, the Sergeant at Arms escorts non-members from the room and “guards the door” to ensure that only members are present. Prior to each session, the Sergeant at Arms should confer with the Convention Secretary to identify upcoming esoteric motions or issues, so that they can be handled with due consideration of non-members in attendance.
- Audit Committee
- The Audit committee is made up of volunteers during appointment of committees. The committee meets with the WGE on the first day of Convention to review the Fraternity’s accounts and finances. The committee reports its findings and recommendations to the Convention on the following day.
- Resolutions Committee
- This volunteer committee, chaired by the Convention Secretary, collects the proposed motions from members. After the deadline for motions expires on the first day of Convention, the committee reviews the motions and arranges them in a logical order (i.e., motions related to dues together and esoteric issues together). The Secretary is responsible for ensuring that the motions are copied that evening, so that each delegate and the Convention President has a copy at the beginning of the next day’s session (as well as a handful of copies for members in the gallery).
- Nomination Committee
- Members of this committee collect nominations for Grand Council officers and appointees for upcoming years, collecting letters of acceptance, as well as any documentation the nominees wish to be included in the Committee’s report to the Convention.
- Chapter Maintenance Committee
- This committee helps advise the Grand Council on chapter maintenance issues over the following year.
The order of business is defined in the APX By-Laws, but can be changed by resolution of the Convention.
- Examination of the credentials of the delegates
- Call to order
- Delegate roll call
- Election of the Convention Officers;
- Appointment of Committees
- Report of the Grand Council
- Report of the Nominating Committee
- Additional nomination of members to the Grand Council
- Close of nomination and nominating speeches
- Unfinished Business
- New Business
- Election of members to the Grand Council
- Suggestions for the Fraternity’s welfare
- Report of the Convention Director for meeting places for successive conventions
The legislative business of Convention is handled through a series of formal motions. These motions are often referred to as “resolutions,” although technically a motion is not resolved until approved by the Convention.
Introduction of Motions
Any member of the fraternity may submit a motion before the Convention, as long as it is seconded by a delegate. The maker of a motion is not required to attend Convention; but in practice, the maker or the seconder should be ready to speak on behalf of the motion, answer questions, and handle amendments that may be offered.
Motions should be prepared using the Convention Motion Form. The form not only has fields for the text of the motion and names of the maker and second, but also provides space for a brief explanation of the motion. This space helps delegates understand the issues or reasoning behind the motion.
Many motions can be presented to Resolutions Committee up to the deadline on the first day of Convention. However, certain motions (such as those amending the Constitution, By-Laws, Ritual or increasing dues) must be presented at least 60 days prior to Convention. This is intended so that Chapters and Alumni Associations can evaluate the motion and instruct their delegates in advance. To ensure timely distribution of these motions, the WGA or another member of the Grand Council collects them in the months leading to Convention.
Motions at Work
When brought to the floor in New Business, the Secretary reads the motion aloud, and the maker of the motion is permitted to make a statement before debate begins.
Amendments play an important role in shaping the final resolutions. Amendments may be made for many reasons: to correct a minor error, to clarify the language, to avoid unwanted consequences, etc. Most motions are amended at least once in debate; in some cases, the motion may be nearly completely rewritten before going to vote.
Delegates may suggest amendments in debate on the motion. If the amendment is accepted by the maker of the motion and there are no objections from other delegates, it is considered a “friendly” amendment and the motion is modified immediately without additional debate. Even if there is an objection, the delegate may move to amend the motion. Once seconded, such an amendment is debated and voted upon before returning to the primary motion (i.e., as a motion within a motion).
At some point (perhaps at the prodding of the President), a delegate will move to “call the question,” closing debate and proceeding to a vote. If the Convention agrees to close debate, the Secretary reads the final language of the motions, and the vote follows. While Robert’s Rules of Order are employed to make sure only one thing under consideration at any moment, it’s possible to get confused to whether a vote is being made on the main motion, an amendment, or another procedural matter such to extend or close debate. Delegates should take care to be clear what they are voting on, and speak up or ask questions if they are unsure.
Most motions pass with a simple majority vote. However amendments to the Constitution and By-laws require a three-fourths majority, and amendments to The Ritual require a seven-eights majority.
With the exception of the Grand Advisor, the officers of the Grand Council are elected by the Convention to three-year terms. These terms are staggered.
The Nominations Committee is tasked with finding candidates to serve on the Grand Council. Although most nominees are identified prior to Convention, Robert’s Rules of Order require that additional nominations be accepted from the floor.
After nomination speeches and any other debate, the Sergeant at Arms collects the delegates’ ballots. With candidate representatives looking on, the Secretary counts the ballots and announces the results to the Convention. New officers are installed by July 1, the start of the Fraternity’s fiscal year, typically at the Grand Council’s summer planning meeting.
The Grand Council selects Convention sites and is working to make the decision on Convention sites as early as possible. The goal is to plan for Conventions two years ahead. Although time is reserved in the Convention’s agenda to solicit suggestions and hear feedback for future Convention locations, serious proposals should be directed to the Grand Council in advance.