Excerpt From Guilford’s Faculty Handbook, Section 1.305, Faculty Meetings
Faculty meetings are conducted according to Quaker business procedures. Meetings begin with silence in order to reach beneath individual preferences to a level of openness that will facilitate decision-making for the good of the whole and end in silence to affirm the unity of the whole. The gathering of a sense of the meeting normally involves two stages: a tentative exploration of the issue, raising questions of clarification and criticism, and a convergence toward decision, presenting considered judgments. As the tide builds, members add “I agree” or “I approve of that” in order to assist the Clerk in sensing how far the group has moved toward unity and to avoid repeating the same point just said by another.
In the process of reaching decisions, faculty members have the responsibility to share their concerns with their colleagues, to listen carefully to the views of others, and to be willing to lay aside personal or group interest in order to allow a harmonious sense of the meeting to emerge. It is crucial that objections be raised in a timely, respectful, and direct manner during the meeting. Decisions rest upon a general sense of the meeting. The sense of the meeting is not identical to unanimity, but implies a willingness of the group to go forward with the proposal. If a faculty member does not agree with the sense of the meeting, he or she may
- “Stand aside” and allow the decision to proceed while not actually endorsing the action or policy,
- Ask to be recorded as opposed but allow the group to go forward, or
- Choose to delay the group’s decision when the issue is a matter of deep personal conscience.
In the latter case, the Clerk will normally ask for further discussion or propose that a committee work with the dissenting member(s) to understand better the roots of the objection and continue discussion of the issue at another faculty meeting. The faculty may move forward despite an individual’s objections if the Clerk senses that his or her concerns are not rooted in the best tradition of Friends’ practice or do not spring from deep conscience.