Faculty Council Proposes Quorum Change

The Faculty of Arts and Sciences will decide next week whether or not to lower the quorum required to pass motions at its monthly meetings.

The Rules of Faculty Procedure currently require that one-sixth of the full Faculty—which has approximately 700 members—be present for any “binding votes” to occur.

The proposal, drafted by the Faculty Council, the 18-member governing body of the Faculty, calls for lowering the quorum threshold from one-sixth to one-eighth.

The proposal drew mixed reactions from professors. Many said that while they lamented the recent drop in Faculty meeting attendance, they were unsure that lowering the quorum was the solution.

German professor Peter J. Burgard said that the quorum is too low already, and that lowering it further might encourage even worse attendance at meetings.

He offered an alternative solution to the quorum problem.

“I think the Faculty should go to the meetings,” he said.

Many professors have expressed frustration with the Faculty’s inability to achieve quorum in the past.

One notable example occurred in November when anthropology professor J. Lorand Matory ’82 put forth a proposal to foster “civil dialogue.” Due to a lack of quorum, the motion was tabled until the next month’s meeting.

“On the one hand, a lot of legislative matters will be settled more easily and quickly,” Matory said of the new plan. “But the problem that few of us participate has not been addressed...there’s the idea among professors that most matters that are voted upon have already been decided elsewhere.”

Classics professor Richard F. Thomas said he was interested by the proposal but wanted to hear more before casting his vote.

“The idea would be that there would be a quorum at every meeting, and that’s an idea I would support,” he said.