Re: DSM: Consensus v. Majority Vote

Dana Matthew Bennis (
Sat, 20 Jan 2001 19:38:26 -0500

How about making decisions in such a way that combines some features of
both majority and consensus voting? One possible blending is described on
this website:
Essentially, it involves majority vote. However, those who voted in the
minority were asked if they wanted to explain why they voted that way, and
after further discussion there could be another vote. (take a look at the
site for a more detailed description).

What does everyone think about this?


At 07:01 PM 1/20/01 -0500, you wrote:
>Isn't this comparing apples and oranges? Consensus and majority vote are
>mechanisms for making decisions. One could have a JC (which simply stands
>for Judicial Committee) which operated on a consensus model. The kind of
>decisions which Anne was discussing were more 'School Meeting' type
>decisions anyway.
>I am a fan of majority vote for making decisions in a Sudbury model school
>environment. Since it is not really possible to 'step aside' from some
>decisions, particularly any decision which established a rule or a
>responsibility, consensus would, in my understanding, require the group to
>arrive at every such decision unanimously. How could there not be pressure
>on dissenters to agree with the majority, if only to end the meeting? I
>prefer the vote. In either scenario the dissenter does not get their way,
>but at least when it is decided by vote there is no additional requirement
>for false agreement with the decision. This assumes that there is plenty of
>time before a vote to propose amendments, speak one's mind etc. in a effort
>to affect the outcome, which I believe is well established in meetings run
>under Robert's Rules of Order.
>I also believe that consensus does not scale well, in other words, the
>larger the group becomes, the harder consensus is to achieve. If one wants
>a small school, that should not be an issue. However, if one wants a school
>which may start small but would like to grow to, say SVS's 200 students, it
>makes sense to choose a governing structure which will work at that
>enrollment level.
>Kristin Harkness
>-----Original Message-----
>From: <>
>Date: Saturday, January 20, 2001 5:26 PM
>Subject: Re: DSM: dancing
>>The democratic process in a Sud school is one person, one vote, and the
>>majority rules. Concensus is not really democratic. Personally, I prefer
>>concensus to J.C.. Although, J.C. has it merits, if needed. Concensus
>>invites the relationship between people, whereas, J.C. is primarily used
>>settling disputes and punishment.

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