Senate FAQs

I’ve been elected to the Senate from my School, now what?

Congratulations! Please familiarize yourself with following on the Senate website - Governance Resources. When you receive the Senate agenda, read the material provided and be ready to discuss or ask questions at the meeting. Start to consider how you will communicate with your constituency. Visit the membership page of the Senate to see who else is representing your School and consider conferring.

I’ve been elected to the Senate as an At-Large Member, now what?

Please see the FAQ about being elected as a School representative as much of the same material applies. Your duties are to discuss with School Representatives issues that cut across the Schools, suggesting and implementing means for cooperative consideration of these issues among relevant constituencies of the University Faculty.

Do I need to learn Robert’s Rules?

Yes, the Senate uses Robert’s Rules of Order as a meeting process. The Governance Resources link above has information to help you learn Robert’s Rules. You must have a good working understanding of Robert’s Rules to follow a Senate meeting. The Senate uses a speakers list for speaking order. Raise your hand to get on the speaker’s list. You should not speak unless you have been recognized by the Chair.

What are first and second readings?

All business items receive a first and second reading. The first reading of an item is meant for questions, clarifications, suggestions for improvement or for voicing major objections. No motions can be offered on a first reading, except to waive the first reading or refer the item back to the maker. The first reading also provides time between the first discussion of the item and subsequent voting so that Senators can confer with their constituencies. At the second reading, all appropriate amendments can be offered and voting can take place. It is possible to move to waive the first reading. This requires a second and can be debated. It takes a majority vote. Usually the first reading is waived only for time sensitive materials and is used primarily for resolutions. Typically, policy changes are not waived.

What can I expect at a Senate meeting?

The current Chair of the Faculty is Chair of the Senate meeting. The order of the agenda is usually followed quite closely. Reports are made by administrators, committee chairs, reps from the Associated Students, the Statewide Senators, CFA and the Staff. After reports, the Chair will ask if there are any questions. Sometimes the business will be heavy and sometimes light. If the business is heavy, not all reports will be given time. You may hear special reports and have visitors to the Senate such as the Mayor of Rohnert Park or the CSU Faculty Trustee.

How does the Senate vote?

Typically, the Senate votes by voice vote. If you favor, say Aye. If you oppose, say No. Sometimes, if the voice vote is close or if the Chair decides in advance, s/he will ask for a hand count. On rare occasions, a member will move to use a paper ballot. Members elected to serve on the Executive Committee from the Senate are voted on with a paper ballot.

What is the Executive Committee of the Senate?

The Executive Committee of the Senate approves the agenda for the Senate and reviews business items that come forward for “readiness” for the Senate. Two sitting voting members of the Senate are elected each year to serve on the Executive Committee as At-Large Members from the Senate. The Executive Committee membership is all ex-officio: Chair of the Senate, Vice Chair, Immediate Past Chair, Secretary, one Statewide Senator, two At-Large from the Senate, APARC Chair, EPC Chair, FSAC Chair and SAC Chair, a rep from CFA, the President, the Provost, the VP of Administration & Finance and the VP of Student Affairs. A Senate rep from the Associated Students usually attends as well. Typically, business for the Senate must come through the Executive Committee, however, resolutions have been offered from the floor of the Senate and can be added to the Senate’s agenda with a  2/3rds vote in the affirmative.

What is the Consent Calendar?

If an item appears on the Senate’s consent calendar, it means that it was approved unanimously through all levels of approval, including the Executive Committee. Typically, curricular changes will appear on the Consent Calendar. Consent Calendar items are emailed to Senators. If you think an item on the Consent Calendar has issues that need to be discussed or addressed, you can move to take it off the Consent Calendar and be made a business item. It would then go through first and second readings.

What if my name is misspelled or I don’t have a name tent or I’m not getting my agendas?

Contact the Senate office immediately –, X42801, ST1027.

Why are the meetings recorded?

Senate meetings are recorded to facilitate the creation of minutes from the meeting. It also creates a verbatim record of the meeting which may prove useful to faculty in the future who want to hear a discussion on a particular item or topic. If you miss a meeting, you can listen to it on the Scholarworks or contact the Senate office for a CD or MP3 of the meeting.

I’m not tenured and I’m a bit concerned about what I say in the Senate, any advice?

To our knowledge, nothing that anyone has said at the Senate goes into the RTP process. That said, we expect all members to remain professional and civil, even during controversial discussions or disagreements.

I have to miss a meeting of Senate, what do I need to do?

If you know in advance that you will miss a meeting of the Senate, you may find a proxy from your School, to attend in your place. If you are an At-Large Rep to the Senate, you may choose any faculty member from any School. Email the Senate office,, as we need your proxy designation in writing. Proxy rules are located in the by-laws.

Yikes! I’ve been elected, but have to miss a whole semester of Senate meetings!

If you are in this situation, contact the Senate office immediately ( Your School will be contacted to send a semester replacement for you. You do not need to find a replacement, that is the responsibility of the School.