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How to... Discussions

How to dress appropriately at a Discussion

Matriculated members of the University are requested to wear academical dress  (Statutes and Ordinances, Chapter II) to Discussions. The Senate-House Keeper has a small number of spare gowns available for use if needed. Other attendees, such as unmatriculated staff of the University or Colleges may attend without gowns.

When attendance is expected to be high or the Discussion held at an alternative location, the requirement to wear gowns may be relaxed. Attendees will not be turned away for lack of an academic gown.

Specific dress:

Vice-Chancellor's Deputy:    black gown (no hood) and cap
Registrary (or Deputy):        black gown (no hood) and cap
Proctors and Pro-Proctors:  dark suits, caps, gowns, bands; Proctors wear hoods.

How to make a contribution to a Discussion

Contrary to the name, Discussions don’t involve a live debate as such. Instead discussants read prepared speeches, or ‘remarks’, which are recorded and published to the University. The originating body of the Report then chooses whether to respond to the remarks and/or vary the proposals as a result.

Guide to making remarks at a Discussion:

Speakers should prepare their remarks in advance to read out on the day. Remarks should not normally take longer than fifteen minutes each to deliver and discussants may only contribute one set of remarks per Report/topic. Discussants should ensure their remarks address the subject at hand and are not defamatory. The Presiding officer - the Deputy Vice-Chancellor - has the power to rule out any remarks deemed defamatory or off-topic. 

If you wish to speak on a particular topic, raise your hand when the Deputy Vice-Chancellor announces the Report you would like to speak on, or when the previous speaker has concluded their remarks on that topic. The Deputy Vice-Chancellor will invite you forward to deliver your remarks at the lectern; before you start your speech, it is helpful if you identify who you are and which department, faculty or institution you are from for the benefit of others present.

Guide to submitting a proof of your remarks:

If you have prepared a copy of your remarks, please hand it to the Reporter Editor as you leave the lectern. Please also send an electronic copy of your remarks to reporter.editor@admin.cam.ac.uk immediately after the Discussion, and by Wednesday morning at the latest.

Discussants will be asked to check a proof of their remarks prior to publication. So that your proofs reach you as soon as possible, your remarks should be clearly labelled with your name and email address. Proofs are usually sent out late on Thursday or on Friday morning, to be returned by 10 a.m. on the following Tuesday.

Dos and Don’ts:

DON'T forget to bring a copy of your remarks to read out.

DO send an electronic copy of your remarks to the Reporter Editor (reporter.editor@admin.cam.ac.uk) ideally in advance of the Discussion, but certainly as soon as possible afterwards, and by the Wednesday morning following the Discussion at the latest.

DO leave a hardcopy of your remarks with the Reporter Editor on leaving the dais.

DO ensure your hardcopy remarks are clearly marked with your name and email address; this will ensure the proof of your remarks will reach you as soon as possible.

DON'T prepare a speech that is over-long: fifteen minutes is regarded as the normal maximum duration of a speech.

DON'T talk 'off-topic' when making your remarks: the presiding officer has the power to intervene if it is felt you are talking about issues which are not covered in, or relevant to, the Report. Remarks that are ruled out of order or in breach of a procedural ruling will be omitted from the formal record.