What Is A Point of Personal Privilege?

Point of Personal Privilege

A point, or question, of personal privilege is a type of motion that a member might use to address any issues that affect their ability to carry out their duties or to clarify points made about them personally.

By raising this motion, a member can ask for the meeting conditions to be changed to improve their ability to engage, for the record regarding their actions to be amended, to be excused for personal reasons or other matters relating to that board member personally.

Examples of a point of personal privilege

Here are some examples of using a point of personal privilege during a meeting:

  • If you are hard of hearing and want to ask the speaker to talk louder for you to understand.
  • If you are unable to stand for a vote and want to enquire if you can vote by a show of hand instead.
  • If you want to be excused from the meeting to tend to an urgent matter.
  • If you have been accused of misconduct by another member. 

Common misuses of a point of personal privilege

Here are some common ways that members often misuse a point of personal privilege:

  • Addressing a matter that is not urgent

More often, a member might use a point of personal privilege to address a matter that is not urgent. Since this motion grants a member the right to interrupt the speaker, using it for trivial matters is a misuse of the motion. 

  • Sharing your opinions

A point of personal privilege should be a question to address discomfort or issues that compromise the integrity of a member’s performance. It is not a means to share their opinions or add to the topic being discussed.

  • Referring to the board as a whole

A point of personal privilege can’t be used to address an issue that affects the whole board. The member must raise a point of general privilege to do so.

Difference between points of personal and general privilege

A point of general privilege is used for urgent matters that affect all members of the meeting. For example, the temperature in the room is too hot or too cold or the noise outside the room is too loud for anyone to hear the speaker. It can also be used to raise a motion to call an executive session.

On the other hand, a point of personal privilege is used by a member to raise an issue that only concerns them.

Procedure for raising a point of personal privilege

The proper meeting etiquette to raise a point of personal privilege is as follows:

  • A member raises their hand to alert the board chair
  • The chair recognises the member and allows them to speak
  • The member requests a point of personal privilege by saying, “I rise to a point of personal privilege”
  • The chair allows them to state their point
  • The member states their point
  • The chair reacts appropriately

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