A   C o m p r e h e n s i v e   M a n u a l
representation on the steering committee
call for votes, etc. Voting is formal either
(a steering committee at a coed school
through a voice vote or written ballot.
comprised of eight white men, for
There are, however, less formal ways of
instance, is problematic).  If the members
using a majority rule process. 
of the steering committee are representa 
tive of the group as a whole (or of the
There is mor than one type of majority.  A
demographics of the campus) there is less
simple majority (50% +1) is most com 
of a chance that any one group or sub 
monly thought of as majority rule, but
group will be (or feel) left out or unat 
majority rule decisions can be based on
tended to.  
three fifths, two thirds, or three fourths.
In fact, any fraction greater than a half
More perspectives represented may result
and less than unanimity can be used.  A
in better decisions.  Often, collectives
higher percentage can be used to give a
operate by the consensus decision mak 
minority opinion more weight.  Some
ing process.  But even if a collective
groups use different percentages depend 
votes, it often takes longer to arrive at
ing on the nature of the decision, such as
decisions because more people are
a higher percentage for procedural issues
involved.  This may be a benefit for some
or budgetary ones. 
decisions and may be considered too time
consuming for others.
Majority rule favors  either or  solutions
to problems with little impetus to reach
Different Decision Making Options
broad agreement.  It also helps to get
decisions made in a timely fashion.  It is
Two decision making processes that are
often easier and clearer for members to
most commonly used in small democrat 
ic groups are majority rule and consen 
sus.  Majority rule lets decisions get made
when they are supported by a majority of
those voting.  In consensus the goal of
decision making is to reach an agreement
that is acceptable to all.   
Majority Rule
This is the format or decision making
process with which most people are
familiar.  This process can be used in
either a hierarchically structured or col 
lectively structured group. In the majori 
ty rule design, not everyone has to agree
on what the decision will be.  One of the
most common set of procedures for a
Photo   1995 Alex Zaphiris
majority rule decision making process is
detailed in Robert s Rules of Order.  The
understand how this process works.   On
process is typically implemented by a
the negative side, there will always be a
chair or parliamentarian, and members
majority  and a minority.  It is important
can move to limit or extend discussion,
to keep track of who is in the majority
D e f i n i n g   Y o u r   G r o u p
M     1 3


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