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Walla Walla, WA
Wednesday, October 4, 2023

Oh Robert

February 23, 2023
Ben Griffin

How Robert’s Rules Result in a Niche Flavor of Humor

Ben Griffin

I’ve worked as a senator for ASWWU since my freshman year, and since I’m a senior now; that means I’ve been a senator roughly since I was a freshman. I realize some of you reading this may be community members or uninformed students of Walla Walla University, so allow me to define a few things. 

ASWWU is the student body of WWU. The legislative branch of the student body is the ASWWU Senate, which is composed of the same number of senators as there are candles in the movie Sixteen Candles. Senate primarily follows Robert’s Rules of order, which are widely used rules for how discussion and debate should occur in a formal setting.  

The thing with formality and twenty-year-old student workers is they don’t naturally coalesce. Like oil and olive oil, they will mix, but one of them is a virgin and they would both rather keep to themselves.  

Still, the twenty-year-old student workers know that rules are essential to the proper functioning of the senate and a formal attitude is necessary to preserve their appearance of leadership on campus. The necessity for formality does not overwhelm the twenty-year-old, however. 

 Out of the dissonant pair arises a niche humor experience – part mockery, part underperformance, part genuine passion – which increases the enjoyability of senate at the same time as it shoves senate further away from its potential. For a taste, here are the minutes of the last senate meeting: 

Henry Martyn Robert, author of “Robert’s Rules of Order”, or as I like to call them, Bob’s book of what you can say when. Photo from

Clock In 

[President] Don’t forget to clock in and also don’t forget we’re on the brink of financial ruin, so let’s keep things quick.  

Welcome and Prayer 

[President] Thank you, once again, for showing up to your underappreciated, nigh meaningless job! Let’s begin this meeting with an application to the original legislator, God himself: [insert prayer] 

[President] I move we end this prayer with an amen. Can I get a second? 

[Senator Palmer] Second 

[President] That motion passes 

[All senators] Amen 

Introduction of Guests 

[Guest 1] I’m here to observe democracy at its pinnacle 

[Guest 2] I’m here to ask for money from senate *giggles quietly* 

Approval of Agenda 

[President] Did anyone get a chance to see the agenda? 

[long pause] 

Approval of Minutes 

[President] Did anyone get a chance to see the minutes? 

[Senator Merylls] I move we approve the minutes with the amendment of removing an “r” and adding an “l” to my name 

[Senator Mayes] Second 

[President] Any discussion? 

[Senator Merylls] This is literally my third year in senate, so I would really appreciate it if the scribe could spell my name right 

[President] That motion doesn’t pass 

ASWWU Presidential Update 

*Consciously, tangibly feeling subpar* 

[ASWWU President] My team is great, and things are great 

New Business 

[President] We have a new bill which allows several students to hold multiple positions within ASWWU, because the only thing better than being involved is being more deeply involved 

[President] Any questions of clarification about this bill?  

[Senator Mayes] *raises hand* 

[President] This better not be a question of merit *suspicious glance* 

[Senator Mayes] *lowers hand* 

Old Business 

[President] Were the committees able to meet?  

[Committee Head] Yes! *said with the undue confidence of someone who just had a committee meeting minutes before senate* 

[Committee Head] We’d like to bring this bill to senate with amendments: we pushed the number of sleds to buy from six to eight because it FEELS like the right amount 

[President] Any discussion? 

*General consensus that eight feels like the appropriate number of sleds* 

Senate Listens 

[President] What did we hear from the students this week?  

[Senator Edwards] Students would like the dorms to smell better and be better, would like the cafeteria to taste better and be cheaper, and would like tuition to cost less but accomplish more.  

[President] Ok, so pretty much the same as last week... 

Open Forum 

[Senator Mayes] *raises hand* 

[President] I swear on the crypt of Henry Robert, if that’s a question of merit, Senator Mayes, I will put this gavel to use 

[Senator Mayes] *lowers hand* 

Meeting Adjournment 

Clock Out 

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