L G B T   C a m p u s   O r g a n i z i n g
and who is in the minority; is it the
one s input and concerns are part of the
women in your group who are continual 
process, those decisions made by consen 
ly getting over ruled?  Is it the bisexuals?
sus are often the strongest decisions and
Is it the gay men?  Is it always the same
the ones everyone is invested in. Using
group in the minority? If so, your group
consensus can also help to strengthen
may be divided into two or more blocs.
interpersonal relationships and trust.
This may lead to intense competition,
However, there are drawbacks.  Consen 
hostile debates, and the silencing of
sus requires commitment to real listening
minority voices.  If the minority group
and caring about everyone in the group s
feels no power, they may try to sabotage
opinion.  It also requires patience, prac 
decisions in other ways. 
tice, and skills in conflict resolution.
Among the negative aspects of consensus
In consensus everyone must agree to a
is the amount of time it may take to make
particular decision for it to be valid.  It
decisions.  In order for the group to do
DOES NOT, however, mean that every 
anything, everyone must agree that it is
one must agree on the issue.  They simply
the appropriate action to take.  This can
must agree on (or not object to) the action
become an all consuming process.  It
that the group as a whole will take.  The
may be that your group will have to meet
following description by the Center for
more often and spend more time working
Conflict Resolution makes this point
through different issues.  If members
share values, and there is a good amount
of respect and trust, consensus may be
Consensus stresses the cooperative
worth the time involved.  
development of a decision with group
members working together rather than
In fact, some groups use both types of
competing against each other.  The goal
decision making processes; they attempt
of consensus is a decision that is consent 
to reach consensus, but if a there is a
ed to by all group members...Full consent
pressing decision they may fall back on
does not mean that everyone must be
voting.  That is, if there has been a sig 
completely satisfied with the final out 
nificant attempt to reach consensus
come in fact, total satisfaction is rare.
unsuccessfully, then the group may
The decision must be acceptable enough,
decide to decide by majority rule.  In this
however, that all will agree to support the
case, there typically needs to be a two
group in choosing it.
thirds majority.  
Consensus relies upon information, artic 
ulation, and persuasion to clarify and
change the minds of group members; it
If  you are starting a new group or resus 
also uses compromise to reach agree 
citating one that has been dead for years
ment.  There are a number of different
the following are beginning steps you
ways to express dissent ranging from dis 
may want to consider.  Although many of
agreeing but "standing aside," to totally
these suggestions are geared to a student
blocking the consensus.  Used in the spir 
group, they can easily be adapted by
it of cooperation, consensus can ensure
groups of faculty, staff, alumni/ae, or
everyone s equal power.  Since every 
mixed groups.
1 4     M
B u i l d i n g   a   H e a l t h y   O r g a n i z a t i o n


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