Monday, February 12, 2007


It was taken for granted from the outset that in a house of 15 there was going to have to be a forum where issues could be discussed, this is obviously aside from the obvious berrating of whoever pissed you off. Consensus dictated that each week there would have to be at least one weekly meeting, and also each week there would be two chairs to preside over the running of the household and the meetings. This week it I am chairing the week with Richard Smith, and so I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to talk about the meetings, and some of the issues within the house.

Meetings follow a very common pattern and they rarely vary, and no matter how little time you think an issue will take discuss, it will invariably take 5 times as long. Richard said at the start of yesterdays meeting, with only one topic on the agenda, that we were aiming for it to be the shortest meeting yet, an hour later it was decided to postpone all other points to a later point in the week.

The order of meetings has developed over time but on average it goes something like this. The chair introduces an issue (or asks someone else to introduce it if that person feels more strongly) the chairs tends to speak on the issue for a moment, stressing the main areas of discussion. During this time at least ten hands shoot up. In the beginning the chair just picked people out a random and so at any one time at least five hands were hovering in the air, however, a practice soon developed for the chair to start writing down a list of speakers. We however have no structure for closing the list and so discussions can last for a long time, until the chair finally decides to move to a vote.

This seems to be very orderly and it does work. However, when discussions heat up you frequently have people shouting at each other with absolutely no regard to proper meeting decorum, and as the shouting heats up the chairs struggle vainly to restore the meeting to order something that takes some time. Eventually a vote occurs but before this must happen the motion must be clarified several times, then the issue is split into several votes, then it has to be decided whether the majority has to be simple or two thirds. Finally we vote count and of course have a recount.

The house can be split into three different types when it comes to group meetings, those who dont say a word, those who repete what has already been said, and those who cant say enough and will who continue to speak even when everything has been decided. There is a fourth which can be extracted from the other three groups, these people are the ones who try to speed the meetings up by proposing soloutions, these people (of which I am one) always slow the meeting down and the group suddenly gets bogged down in specifics, and the meetings just drag on and on.

Issues that have been raised and re-raised include washing/cleaning/tidying, guests in the house, group activities, the t.v., internet and the most contentious of all the playstation. I do not really want to go into just how bad the issue of the playstation was, lets just say it divided the house (unsurprisingly boys v. girls) and there were a couple of days when it was the only thing that anyone talked about, eventually it was decided to ban it, and in hindsight, though I hate myself for saying it, the decision was the correct one.

Although we have had our issues, and we will continue to debate discuss and argue I feel we have actually handled house living rather well, and that if we did not have these group meeting however long arduous and repetetive they may be, without them it would all fall apart.


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