A Permanent Society

48. A Permanent Society. (a) First Meeting. When it is desired to form a permanent society, those interested in it should see that only the proper persons are invited to be present, at a certain time and place. It is not usual in mass meetings, or meetings called to organize a society, to commence until fifteen or thirty minutes after the appointed time, when some one steps forward and says, "The meeting will please come to order; I move that Mr. A. act as chairman of this meeting;" some one "seconds the motion," when the one who made the motion puts it to vote (or, as it is called, "puts the question"), as already described, under an "occasional meeting" [ 46, (a)]; and, as in that case, when the chairman is elected, he announces as the first business in order the election of a secretary.

After the secretary is elected, the chairman calls on some member who is most interested in getting up the society, to state the object of the meeting. When this member rises he says, "Mr. Chairman;" the chairman then announces his name, when the member proceeds to state the object of the meeting. Having finished his remarks, the chairman may call on other members to give their opinions upon the subject, and sometimes a particular speaker is called out by members who wish to hear him. The chairman should observe the wishes of the assembly, and while being careful not to be too strict, he must not permit any one to occupy too much time and weary the meeting.

When a sufficient time has been spent in this informal way, some one should offer a resolution, so that definite action can be taken. Those interested in getting up the meeting, if it is to be a large one, should have previously agreed upon what is to be done, and be prepared at the proper time to offer a suitable resolution, which may be in a form similar to this: "Resolved, That it is the sense of this meeting that a society for [state the object of the society] should now be formed in this city." This resolution, when seconded, and stated by the chairman, would be open to debate and be treated as already described [ 46, (b)]. This preliminary motion could have been offered at the commencement of the meeting, and if the meeting is a very large one, this would probably be better than to have the informal discussion.

After this preliminary motion has been voted on, or even without waiting for such motion, one like this can be offered: "I move that a committee of five be appointed by the Chair, to draft a Constitution and By-Laws for a society for [here state the object], and that they report at an adjourned meeting of this assembly." This motion can be amended [ 56] by striking out and adding words, etc., and it is debatable.

When this committee is appointed, the chairman may inquire, "Is there any other business to be attended to?" or, "What is the further pleasure of the meeting?" When all business is finished, a motion can be made to adjourn to meet at a certain place and time, which, when seconded, and stated by the Chair, is open to debate and amendment. It is usually better to fix the time of the next meeting [see 63] at an earlier stage of the meeting, and then, when it is desired to close the meeting, move simply "to adjourn," which cannot be amended or debated. When this motion is carried, the chairman says, "This meeting stands adjourned to meet at," etc., specifying the time and place of the next meeting.

(b) Second Meeting.* [Ordinary meetings of a society are conducted like this second meeting, the chairman, however, announcing the business in the order prescribed by the rules of the society [ 72]. For example, after the minutes are read and approved, he would say, "The next business in order is hearing reports from the standing committees." He may then call upon each committee in their order, for a report, thus: "Has the committee on applications for membership any report to make?" In which case the committee may report, as shown above, or some member of it reply that they have no report to make. Or, when the chairman knows that there are but few if any reports to make, it is better, after making the announcement of the business, for him to ask, "Have these committees any reports to make?" After a short pause, if no one rises to report, he states, "There being no reports from the standing committees, the next business in order is hearing the reports of select committees," when he will act the same as in the case of the standing committees. The chairman should always have a list of the committees, to enable him to call upon them, as well as to guide him in the appointment of new committees.] At the next meeting the officers of the previous meeting, if present, serve until the permanent officers are elected. When the hour arrives for the meeting, the chairman standing, says, "The meeting will please come to order:" as soon as the assembly is seated, he adds, "The secretary will read the minutes of the last meeting." If any one notices an error in the minutes, he can state the fact as soon as the secretary finishes reading them; if there is no objection, without waiting for a motion, the chairman directs the secretary to make the correction. The chairman then says, "If there is no objection the minutes will stand approved as read" [or "corrected," if any corrections have been made].

He announces as the next business in order, "the hearing of the report of the committee on the Constitution and By-Laws." The chairman of the committee, after addressing "Mr. Chairman" and being recognized, reads the committee's report and then hands it to the chairman.* [In large and formal bodies the chairman, before inquiring what is to be done with the report, usually directs the secretary to read it again. See note to 46 (c), for a few common errors in acting upon reports of committees. [See also note to 46 (b).]] If no motion is made, the chairman says, "You have heard the report read -what order shall be taken upon it?" Or simply inquires, "What shall be done with the report?" Some one moves its adoption, or still better, moves "the adoption of the Constitution reported by the committee," and when seconded, the chairman says, "The question is on the adoption of the Constitution reported by the committee." He then reads the first article of the Constitution, and asks, "Are there any amendments proposed to this article?" If none are offered, after a pause, he reads the next article and asks the same question, and proceeds thus until he reads the last article, when he says, "The whole Constitution having been read, it is open to amendment." Now any one can move amendments to any part of the Constitution.

When the chairman thinks it has been modified to suit the wishes of the assembly, he inquires, "Are you ready for the question?" If no one wishes to speak, he puts the question, "As many as are in favor of adopting the Constitution as amended, will say aye;" and then, "As many as are opposed, will say no." He distinctly announces the result of the vote, which should always be done. If the articles of the Constitution are subdivided into sections or paragraphs, then the amendments should be made by sections or paragraphs, instead of by articles.

The chairman now states that the Constitution having been adopted, it will be necessary for those wishing to become members to sign it (and pay the initiation fee, if required by the Constitution), and suggests, if the assembly is a large one, that a recess be taken for the purpose. A motion is then made to take a recess for say ten minutes, or until the Constitution is signed. The constitution being signed, no one is permitted to vote excepting those who have signed it.

The recess having expired, the chairman calls the meeting to order and says, "The next business in order is the adoption of By-Laws." Some one moves the adoption of the By-Laws reported by the committee, and they are treated just like the Constitution. The chairman then asks, "What is the further pleasure of the meeting?" or states that the next business in order is the election of the permanent officers of the society. In either case some one moves the appointment of a committee to nominate the permanent officers of the society, which motion is treated as already described in 47. As each officer is elected he replaces the temporary one, and when they are all elected the organization is completed.

If the society is one that expects to own real estate, it should be incorporated according to the laws of the state in which it is situated, and for this purpose, some one on the committee on the Constitution should consult a lawyer before this second meeting, so that the laws may be conformed to. In this case the trustees are usually instructed to take the proper measures to have the society incorporated.