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Elements of a General Assembly

Orientation A reading of the rules and process for General Assembly. Each GA begins with orientation. Welcoming A few minutes for anyone who wishes to say hi, introduce themselves, and say a couple of words. This is a time to get to know each other, not to make announcements. Working Group Updates Check-ins with different projects connected to a GA. Any working group that wishes to may use this time to share information about their activities. Proposals Bring pre-announced proposals to be decided on by the Assembly. Each proposal will be given ten minutes for discussion before being voted upon. Break-Outs Anyone may propose a topic to lead a discussion on. The Assembly breaks into small groups around these topics. During break-outs people are free to stick with one group or migrate between them. Pre-Proposals Announce proposals to be voted on next time. General Discussion Anyone may raise a topic for feedback from the full assembly. Time for general discussion will be limited and any topic that does not absolutely require full group feedback should be raised instead in break-outs. General Announcements Share other interesting news and information.


A Vision for the General Assembly A general assembly a process for facilitating communication and collaboration in large, disparate groups. It is a space open to all to share information and ideas, to start discussions, and to make decisions collaboratively. We called this general assembly to give UW a mechanism to build a culture of engagement. We envision the GA as a place for students, faculty, staff, and workers--all those with a stake in the UW--to come and talk to each other. We envision it as an incipient voice for this community; a place to discuss, brainstorm, and plan action on matters that affect us in common. The GA is a forum for communication. It is not an organization. (You can be a regular participant at the GA; you cannot be a member). The GA is an autonomously gathered group inspired by the broad-based democratic decision-making and collaboration made possible by Occupy General Assemblies. We are not a project or branch of Occupy Seattle or any other group. The General Assembly is a place for anyone and everyone to come and speak for themselves. While we acknowledge the importance of existing groups as networks for communication and organization, the GA is not meant for representatives, who speak for their groups and then report back. The GA is not a representative democracy.

What is a Working Group?

Working groups work on particular tasks and projects. Anyone can form a working group. The only rule of a working group is it must be open to anyone who wishes to support. Existing groups may declare themselves working groups so long as they meet this condition.

Hand Gestures
(adapted from NYC General Assembly Guide, gesture icons by Adrian Rocchio)

The Proposal Process

Anyone can make a proposal to the Assembly. Proposals are ways to bring decisions for the collective. (1) Write out your proposal. (2) Before you bring your proposal to vote, you must announce it at a prior assembly and send a written copy to the facilitation group ( by the Saturday evening before you intend to put the proposal to vote. This gives anyone with a stake in a proposal due notice to come to the Assembly at which it will be voted upon. (3) Bring your proposal to vote. You will be expected to read the exact language of the proposal. The Assembly will then be allowed up to ten minutes for discussion before being called to a vote. (4) Proposals will be decided by the current rule. This may involve forms of majority voting or consensus.

Description: Hold your hands up, palm open, and fan your fingers back and forth. Meaning: You agree with the proposal or like what you are hearing.

Description: Hold your hand downward and fan your fingers back and forth. Meaning: You disagree with the proposal or dislike what you are hearing

Speak Up Wrap it up Vote Off Topic

Description: Hold you hands up next to your ears. Meaning: Please speak up. Description: Circle your arms over each other, making a rolling motion. Meaning: I get your point. Please wrap up. Description: Create a V with both hands. Meaning: I am ready to vote. Description: Create a T with your hands. Meaning: Discussion is off-topic.

Facilitation Roles
Process mover: moderates the flow of the general assembly Time keeper: prevents assembly from running on ad infinitum Stack keeper: keeps track of people on stack to speak Note taker: preserves collective memory Agenda keeper (op): keeps track of agenda and agenda modifications Vibe checker (op): keeps an eye on mood, works to defuse tension and maintain a comfortable conversational climate

Description: Make a triangular shape with your hand by joining your index fingers and thumbs. Meaning: Telling the group the process by which discussions are held is not being followed.

Description: Cross your arms in front of your chest to form an X. Meaning: You have very strong moral or ethical reservations about the proposal and will consider leaving the group if it passes.

Produced by the UW General Assembly Facilitation Group. If would like to help facilitate UW General Assemblies, talk to a facilitator after GA or come to our Saturday meetings.