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Committee Chairpersons

KASKASKIA COLLEGE INFORMATION FOR COMMITTEE CHAIRPERSONS

1. Information about consensus:
The College structure is based on the consensus model of internal governance. Thus, each person's opinion is considered regardless if it is a minority or majority opinion. The goal is to build a consensus on a particular issue so that most everyone involved can live with the decision, although they may not like certain parts or conditions.

Each committee should have representation from each employee group and the Student Congress. This will allow for a broader base of decision-making. With these various perspectives, we will have the best possible decisions being made.

This process should result in the development of trust, the gaining of ownership, enhancement of communications, and support for the decisions. This is to be a bottoms-up approach to decision-making and not a downward driven.

2. Role of Committee Chairperson:

  1. Serve as a facilitator not a supervisor.
  2. Seek input from everyone.
  3. Try to get everyone involved in process.
  4. Consider all ideas or comments.
  5. Do not embarrass someone.
  6. Give editing items privately.
  7. Find something positive in what anyone has to say.
  8. When it appears that an issue has a consensus, ask if there are any objections, and slowly go around the room with eye contact to sense if there is a consensus. If you sense that someone is uncomfortable, then ask if they are uneasy with the item and pursue input. If you sense that there is a consensus, then declare there is a consensus before going on the next item.
3. Status of projects:

The committee chairperson should keep a current record on the progress of all issues or tasks the committee or subcommittee is working on. These should be reviewed on occasion to ensure that progress is being made. Also, the College Council should be advised as to progress from time to time. If no progress is being made, then the chairperson needs to look into what needs to be done.

4. Does "consensus" mean that 100% of the people must agree?

No! The system is based on the idea that the best decisions are those with a wide range of input and through a compromising approach decisions will be made that everyone can live with. To have a split vote, say 10 for an item and 9 against, often means that you have 10 winners and 9 losers. We want all 19 to be winners.

The goal is to achieve 80-90% consensus with the other 10-20% understanding and hopefully comfortable with that decision. If everyone is honestly involved in the process of building a consensus, a great majority of those who do not agree with the total outcome will find no fault with the way the outcome was achieved, and therefore will not set up arbitrary obstacles to decisions.

5. Time

Be advised that the consensus model does take time. One must be patient to listen to the thoughts of others and to be considerate of their thoughts. If the goal is to rubber stamp an item in order to get the meeting over with as soon as possible, then the consensus model won't work.

6. Process for recommending:

Subcommittee presents recommendations to the Standing Committee, the Standing Committee to the College Council, the College Council to the President, the President to the Board of Trustees.

It needs to be understood that as recommendations are forwarded to a higher level, the recommendations will be viewed from different perspectives, thus there may be changes to the original recommendations. The approval process cannot be a rubber stamp!

7. Administration:

The committee process is for the purpose of recommending policies and procedures, along with other special tasks, i.e. selection committees. Once these recommendations are finalized, then the administrative structure is used for implementation and management.

8. Bottom-Line:

The structure we propose is one that provides full participation, the sharing of authority and responsibility, a bottoms-up model (not top-down), faculty and staff are involved in the idea gathering or development process, and not just responding to what the administration thinks. This is full participation. Ideas may be presented by everyone, cultivated, analyzed, and used or not but everyone has an opportunity to be heard.

9. Committee room environment:

Everyone is equal in the committee room. There is no rank. Everyone entering the room takes their rank off at the door before they enter. Thus, we are all colleagues in the discussion of the issues. The Chairperson has the difficult task of insuring that the environment is non-threatening and open.

CONSENSUS

CONSENSUS BUILDING IS A METHOD OF GROUP DELIBERATION THAT BRINGS TOGETHER FOR FACE-TO-FACE DISCUSSION A SIGNIFICANT RANGE OF INDIVIDUALS CHOSEN BECAUSE THEY REPRESENT THOSE WITH DIFFERING STAKES IN A DECISION.

FACILITATORS, TRAINING FOR PARTICIPANTS, AND CAREFULLY DESIGNED PROCEDURES ARE INTENDED TO ENSURE THAT THE MODE OF DISCOURSE IS ONE WHERE ALL ARE HEARD AND ALL CONCERNS ARE TAKEN SERIOUSLY.

THE PROCESS REQUIRES THAT PARTICIPANTS HAVE COMMON INFORMATION AND THAT ALL BECOME INFORMED ABOUT EACH OTHER'S INTERESTS.

WHEN THE GROUP HAS EXPLORED INTERESTS AND AGREED ON FACTS, THEY CREATE OPTIONS, DEVELOP CRITERIA FOR CHOICE, AND MAKE THE DECISIONS ON WHICH THEY CAN ALL AGREE.
 
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