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LWV-US

Consensus / Concurrence

From League of Women Voters of Greater Milwaukee Newsletter we give you the following:

CONSENSUS has two meanings. In its larger sense (and the way in which it is usually used outside the League), it means "Collective opinion or concord; general agreement or accord" (American Heritage Dictionary) In short, in this larger sense, CONSENSUS means MEMBER AGREEMENT.

The second meaning of consensus refers to a specific technique for arriving at agreement within the League. It is a process by means of which members participate in group discussion on an issue. Usually there are formal "consensus" questions to which the group is responding. It is possible to reach consensus on a point even though a specific question has not been asked. If for instance, you are discussing the question, "What, if any, role should the state have in jail administration?" and, in covering the financing aspects, you decide more money is needed so you can have a full-time rather than a part-time matron, you have reached consensus on that point. ,

The important thing to remember is that "consensus" when used as a technique requires people meeting together and discussing freely. (It does not mean people meeting together and listening to the Program Committee tell them how it is.) If a member cannot attend a consensus-reaching meeting, you should offer, him/her the opportunity to express his/her opinion in another way, such as telling someone on the Program committee, writing it down, phoning it, etc. BUT, to have really reached consensus, most of your members participating in the consensus should have done so at a discussion meeting.

CONCURRENCE is simply another method wherein one agrees or concurs with a position already stated. Groups of League members of League Boards can concur with recommendations of a Program committee or unit group, decision statements formulated by League Boards or positions reached by another League or Leagues. The concurrence method can be used at a discussion meeting, or be conducted through a telephone survey, bulletin poll, etc. THE CONSENSUS METHOD DEALS WITH QUESTIONS; THE CONCURRENCE METHOD DEALS WITH STATEMENTS.

A local League should not assume that concurrence automatically means "no discussion". As a matter of fact, most concurrences require the same kind of study and discussion as consensus.

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