Can a guest participate in meetings?

Clearing up questions about who can participate fully when not a member.

Many questions about parliamentary procedure are directed to Michigan State University Extension on a regular basis. Those individuals who help answer those questions often subscribe to resources to help keep their skills intact. One such resource is The National Association of Parliamentarians (NAP). The National Parliamentarian is NAP’s official publication. Published four times per year, each issue of the NP provides readers with insightful, up-to-date information on parliamentary procedure and how it is applied to a variety of situations and needs. Subscriptions are included in NAP membership. An annual subscription may also be purchased online, or by contacting NAP by e-mail at or phone at (888) 627-2929.

A question submitted to Volume 74, No 4 Fourth Quarter 2013 page 31 asks, “If a member in good standing of a local affiliate of a state association who attends a regular meeting of another affiliate participate as though they were a regular member?”

This type of question is often asked as it pertains to nonmembers attending any meeting.

The answer as written simply states, “No, a person who is not a member may not participate fully in any meeting as though he or she were a member. “A member of an assembly, in a parliamentary sense is a person entitled to full participation in its proceedings that is the right to attend meetings, to make motions, to speak in debate and to vote.” (RONR, 11th ed. p. 3 ll 1-5)” Adding to that response, “nonmembers, on the other hand- or a particular non-member or group of nonmembers- can be excluded at any time from part or all of a meeting of a society, or from all of its meetings. Such exclusion can be effected by a ruling of the chair in cases of disorder, or by the adoption of a rule on the subject, or by an appropriate motion as the need arises.” (p. 644 ll 29-34)

The Michigan State University Extension Government and Public Policy team offers training for elected and appointed officials for improved effectiveness in several areas, including various public policy issues and effects of government programs, regulation, incentives, strategies and more. By working together with local elected and appointed officials, and interested citizens, MSU Extension is able to provide education on critical local and state issues. The Michigan State University Extension Government and Public Policy team also offers professional training in parliamentary procedure. To contact an expert in your area, visit MSU Extension’s expert search system or call 888-MSUE4MI (888-678-3464).

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