Last modified: 2021-06-06
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David Casperson
Associate Professor
Computer Science
University of Northern British Columbia

Friends of Amendments

In almost every College Council or Senate meeting, someone proposes a friendly amendment to motion being debated. Presumably the goal of the amendment-proposing person in indicating their friendliness, is to show their support for the proposition as a whole, and their desire to seek the approval of the original mover.

That said, TANSTAFA. That is, there ain’t no such thing as a friendly amendment. The following is from the Robert's Rules of Order FAQ (#8):

Question 8: How do you deal with a friendly amendment?


On occasion, while a motion is being debated, someone will get up and offer what he or she terms a friendly amendment to the motion, the maker of the original motion will accept the amendment, and the chair will treat the motion as amended. This is wrong. Once a motion has been stated by the chair, it is no longer the property of the mover, but of the assembly. Any amendment, friendly or otherwise, must be adopted by the full body, either by a vote or by unanimous consent.

If it appears to the chair that an amendment (or any other motion) is uncontroversial, it is proper for the chair to ask if there is "any objection" to adopting the amendment. If no objection is made, the chair may declare the amendment adopted. If even one member objects, however, the amendment is subject to debate and vote like any other, regardless of whether its proposer calls it "friendly" and regardless of whether the maker of the original motion endorses its adoption.

Here is sample language:

Is there any objection to amending the motion by replacing “College Dean” with “Faculty Dean” throughout?

There being no objection, we are now considering the amended motion.

If someone does object

There does not appear to be unanimous consent. Is there a motion to amend?

The chair then giving some preference to the original proposer of the friendly amendment. If a motion is forthcoming, it then acquires a seconder, and is stated by the chair as normal.

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