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A step-by-step guide to in-person Discussion proceedings

Today’s Discussion proceedings have retained the formal traditions of the past. The set-up is formal and the format prescribed. Here’s a rough guide on what happens and when for a Discussion in person in the Senate-House. The arrangements for a Discussion taking place by videoconference are similar, but with adjustments to the different format​.

Seating arrangement

The Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Deputy VC) chairs the proceedings, and is seated at a table on the dais. The proctors are seated to the Deputy VC’s left, the lectern to the Deputy VC’s right. The Registrary’s desk is located to the side near the lectern with the Reporter Editor’s desk in between. Chairs for the assembly are set out in the middle of the House with an aisle through the middle.

The proceedings

13.45    Participants and officers arrive at the Senate-House and take their seats.

13.55    The presiding Deputy Vice-Chancellor is greeted by the Senate-House Keeper and waits at the East End of the House.

14.00    On the chiming of the bells of Great St Mary’s, the Deputy VC starts to walk up the aisle and the assembly stands. On passing, the Deputy VC caps the Registrary to the left and then the Proctors to the right. The Deputy VC then sits behind the table at the front of the dais and calls the assembly to sit.

Calling of Reports and making remarks

The Deputy VC rises, caps the assembly, says a few words of welcome and briefly reminds discussants of the form. The Deputy VC then reads aloud the title of the first item for discussion, caps again and sits.

Attendees wishing to speak on the item raise their hands and the Deputy VC will invite them forward one at a time to deliver their remarks standing at the lectern. Remarks are addressed to the Chair and should begin ‘Deputy Vice-Chancellor…’. When finished, speakers give a copy of their script to the Reporter Editor before returning to their seat. When no further speakers wish to come forward, the Deputy VC again rises, caps the assembly, and reads the title of the next item.

Ending the Discussion

When all the items listed have been discussed, the Deputy VC rises, caps the assembly, and declares that the Discussion is finished. The assembly stands as the Deputy VC walks back down the House, capping the Proctors on the left and the Registrary on the right.

Lengthy Discussions

15.50    Discussions are tabled for a maximum of two hours (from 2pm until 4pm). Items still remaining or in progress are carried over to the next scheduled Discussion. If at 15.50 the Discussion has not finished, the Deputy VC asks for a show of hands to see how many discussants wish to speak on the remaining items. If more than two or three, the Deputy VC may consult with the Registrary (or appointed Deputy) on postponing the remainder of the Discussion. As soon as a speech ends after 16.00, the Deputy VC announces that the remaining items will be carried over to the next Discussion and then draws the proceedings to a close.