Guide for Senators


Welcome to the SDSU University Senate!

This brief guide has been developed to assist both new and returning Senators in navigating the sometimes confusing and overwhelming twists and turns of Senate meetings. It is hoped that this will be a useful resource for you. As Senators, we each represent a constituency, and our primary function is to make recommendations with respect to academic and professional matters (e.g. admission, curriculum, programs, degrees, grading, academic and professional standard, budgetary matters pertaining to instruction, etc.) Our individual and collective voices are vitally important as the Senate carries out its responsibility in the process of shared governance. We look forward to working with all of you as we carry out the important business of the Senate.

In solidarity, 

Your Senate Leadership Team

VIDEO: Senator Orientation from August 2022.
Tip: if the video is buffering, you may download it and view it from your device.
  • 8 SEC meetings per year | 4 per semester (Aug, Sept, Oct, Nov & Jan, Feb, March, April) -- typically on the Tuesday two weeks prior to each Senate meeting.
  • 8 Senate meetings per year | 4 Senate meetings per semester (Sept, Oct, Nov, Dec & Feb, Mar, Apr, May) -- typically first Tuesday of the month.
  • Calendar hosted on webpage.
  • Calendar invitations for SEC and Senate meetings are sent to members/Senators, and meeting information is posted on the Listserv.
  • September: Set the Annual Agenda
  • October: Call for Nominations for Senate Teaching Excellence Award
  • March: PBAC members elected; Senate Teaching Excellence Award Lecture & Reception
  • April: General Senate Elections
  • April/May: Caucus for Senate Leadership & SEC Membership
  • May: Senate Officer Elections

Agendas: The Chair, in consultation with the Executive Committee, is responsible for planning and preparing the agenda for Senate meetings. Agendas are posted on the website four days prior to a Senate meeting. The Senate Analyst will notify Senators via email when agendas are posted or updated.

Minutes: Meeting minutes from the prior Senate meetings are posted on the next Senate agenda. Once the Senate approves the minutes they are posted to the Senate website. Any minutes posted as "Draft" minutes have not yet been approved by the Senate.

Action Memos: After each Senate meeting, the chair transmits a memo to the President, who will issue a signed Action Memo that idenitfies which actions taken will become policy. Action memos are posted on the Senate website by the Senate Analyst once a signed memo is recieved from the President.

Typical action items include:

  • Policies
  • Resolutions
  • Other Senate Actions
  • Endorsements
  • Resolutions
  • Referrals
  • Program Reviews
  • Program Proposals
  • Faculty Senate Committee Appointments
  • Non-Senate University Appointments
  • Administrative Search Committees

Adjournment: The procedures governing adjournment and motions to adjourn shall follow those in Robert’s Rules of Order. If a meeting adjourns while business is pending, the business carries over to the next meeting as unfinished business.

Prior to Arrival

  • Read the Agenda – An important step to be an effective Senator is being prepared for Senate meetings by reading the agenda ahead of time. This allows you to see if there are any items for which you wish to propose amendments or seek consultation on.
  • Consult – It is your responsibility to consult with your consitutuency (e.g., Lecturer's, Staff, College Faculty) on any agenda items, for which their feedback would be helpful.
  • Electronic Device – It is your responsibility to bring a phone, laptop or other electronic device on which you can complete an attednance survey, access email, and participate in electronic voting.

Upon Arrival

Online via Zoom
  • Enter the meeting via the URL / meeting ID provided. If you arrive in a wait room you will be allowed into the room at the start time.
  • Follow the instructions in the meeting chat to record your attendance.
  • Rename yourself with a "V" in front of your name (e.g. "V-Amanda Fuller").
  • If you are attending as a proxy for a Senator, in addition to the "V", please note for whom you are a proxy (e.g. "V-Amanda Fuller - proxy for W. Weston").
  • The meeting will be held in the room listed on the Google calendar meeting invitation.
  • Collect your name plate provided for each Senator and place it in front of you when you find a seat. If you are a proxy or you do not see your name plate, please check in with the Senate Analyst.
  • Record your attendance by completing the survey sent to your email.

Start of the Meeting

  • Call to Order: The Chair calls the meeting to order.
  • Land Acknowledgment: the first action of the chair will be to read the SDSU Land Acknwledement.
  • Moment of Silence: Time shall be taken at the beginning of a Senate meeting to honor any members of the campus community that have passed on since the last meeting of the Senate.
  • Approval of Agenda: the chair will ask the Senate to approve the agenda. Motions can be made to add items to the agenda but such additions require a simple majority approval. If the item is an Action Item, its addition to the agenda requires a two-thirds approval. Upon approval of the agenda, all items on the Consent Calendar are approved. Items appearing on the Consent Calendar are expected to be routine and noncontroversial (e.g. committee appointments, program proposals, program reviews, etc.).

▶ Note: A Senator may request a consent action item be removed from the Consent Calendar and placed as a First Reading item. This action is not subject to a vote and no rationale is required.

Follow the Agenda

Topics of discussion shall proceed as identified in the agenda and may inlcude the following in an order established by the Senate Chair and approved by the Senate Executive Committee:

▶ Note: Changes to the proposed meeting agenda can be made by any member of the Senate body as long as it is supported by a 2/3 majority of the voting members present.

  • Approval of the Minutes: The minutes from previous meetings are presented for approval. Motions to correct and/or amend the minutes are in order. Typographical errors can be corrected informally by simply notifying the Senate Office.
  • Action Items: Action Items bring business before the Senate body. They need to be moved and seconded. Sometimes there is debate, and ususally there is a vote. If an Action Item is brought to the Senate from a committeem it does not require a second in order to be debated or to result in a vote.

Note: Changes to the Constitution and/or ByLaws sections of the Policy File require the item to come to the Senate body at least twice, for a first and second reading. First Reading Items: Such an item coming before the Senate is initially presented to inform the body of the resolution and its intent. This is an opportunity for Senators to ask questions to understand the resolution and then for Senators to return to their constituents to provide and solicit feedback before the resolution returns to the Senate as a Second Reading item. Second Reading Items: After the item has been presented as a First Reading item, the resolution will return to the Senate as a Second Reading item. During this time the item can be debated, amended, and voted on. Typically, during meetings Second Reading items are taken up by the body before First Reading items.

  • Information Items: Information items are intended to keep Senators informed about activities, policies, issues, and events that impact the campus community.
  • Presentations: Typically a report is presented by an administrator or guest.
  • Getting Recognized on Speaker’s List: To get recognized by the Senate Chair during an online meeting click on the hand icon. For in-person meetings, raise your nameplate in the air and hold it there until the Chair sees it. The Chair will add your name to the list of people wanting to speak.

▶ Pro-tip: Because it may take more than ten minutes to get to your name if the speaker’s list is long, it can be helpful to write down some notes to yourself about what you wish to say when finally recognized.

  • Asking for Clarification: At any point during a meeting if you are unclear about a vote that is about to happen or have a question about what is going on in general, you can simply raise your hand and say, “Point of Clarification” to be immediately recognized by the Chair to ask your question.
  • Making a Motion: Typical motions include: Approving or reordering the agenda, amending a policy, amending an amendment, extending the allotted time spent on an item, etc. To make a motion, once recognized by the Chair, state your motion without explaining the rationale behind your motion. If your motion is seconded, you may then provide a rationale for the motion.

▶ Motion Example:

Chair: “Senator Smith, you are next on my speakers list.”
Senator Smith: “I move that we add to the beginning of the first sentence on page two the words ‘Unless there is a serious or compelling reason...’”
Senator Doe: “I second the motion.”
Senator Smith: “The reason I think this amendment is needed is because...”


  • In-person: Voting shall typically take place by means of an “Aye/Nay/Abstention” voice vote or show of hands.
  • The Chair will instruct the Body on voting procedures during a Zoom meeting (e.g. Mark a green check mark for Aye, a red "x" for Nay, and a raised hand for Abstention).
  • You may always abstain whenever you like.
  • Special votes: If a motion is made for a roll-call or secret vote, the Senate chair will provide detailed instructions.
  • After the Meeting: If items were discussed that affect the faculty in your unit be sure to update your colleagues and obtain feedback as needed.

At the beginning of the year, all Senators are required to register two substitutes who are eleigible to attend on your behalf if you cannot attend. The policy file states:


5.0 Substitutes (pg 16)

5.1. Each senator when elected shall provide the Secretary with the names of two substitutes from his or her constituency who are eligible for election to the Senate, either one of whom may attend Senate meetings and vote in the absence of the appointing senator.

5.2. A senator may appoint an eligible substitute from his or her constituency other than the two originally named, but before that substitute may attend Senate meetings and vote, the appointing senator shall in writing notify the Secretary of the Senate.

Missing One Session or a Period of Time

When you become aware that your subsitute will attend on your behalf, you must send notice by completing a Senate Help Request

If you will be needing a temporary short term replacement for more than a single meeitng (e.g., you are on sababtical for a semester or one year of your term), please indicate this when you complete the form. You will be asked if your substitute is willing to serve for that period of time. If they are not, Senate Officers will work with CCE to determine a temporary replacement.


If you plan to step down from service, please report this via a Senate Help Request form. Once recieved, Senate Officers will work with CCE to determine the appropriate replacement.

1. Policy Documents and Reports / American Association of University Professors. Eleventh edition., American Association of University Professors, 2015.
(Unlimited users ebook title: SDSU login required)

2. Pierce, Susan R. Governance Reconsidered How Boards, Presidents, Administrators, and Faculty Can Help Their Colleges Thrive. Wiley, 2014.
(Unlimited users ebook title: SDSU login required)

3. Slaughter, Jim, et al. Notes and Comments on Robert’s Rules Jim Slaughter, Gaut Ragsdale, and Jon Ericson. 4th ed., Southern Illinois University Press, 2012.
(Unlimited users ebook title: SDSU login required)

4. Nelson, Cary. No University Is an Island Saving Academic Freedom / Cary Nelson. New York University Press, 2010.
(Unlimited users ebook title: SDSU login required)

Robert's Rules of Order

5. Cook, Rita. The Complete Guide to Robert’s Rules of Order Made Easy : Everything You Need to Know Explained Simply / by Rita Cook. Atlantic Pub., 2008.
(Unlimited users ebook title: SDSU login required)

6. Loss, Christopher P., and Henry M. Robert. Robert’s Rules of Order, and Why It Matters for Colleges and Universities Today / Edited and Introduced by Christopher P. Loss. Princeton University Press, 2021.
(Unlimited users ebook title: SDSU login required)

7. Robert, Henry M. (Henry Martyn), et al. Robert’s Rules of Order : Newly Revised / General Henry M. Robert (U.S. Army). 12th edition, 50th anniversary / by Henry M. Robert III, Daniel H. Honemann, Thomas J. Balch, Daniel E. Seabold, and Shmuel Gerber., Public Affairs, 2020.
(Single user ebook title: SDSU login required)