Partisan Political Activities

by Kathleen McCoy  |   

The political campaign season is upon us again, and questions will come up regarding candidate appearances and political communications.

By law, University employees may not use or permit the use of e-mail or other University property or resources for partisan political purposes. Partisan political purpose is defined by law: anything done with the purpose of differentially benefiting or harming a candidate or potential candidate, political party or group. (See AS 39.52.120(b)(6).)

The following are some general guidelines. However, because the Ethics Act is complex and some issues may involve constitutionally protected speech or matters of academic freedom under Board of Regents' policy, please seek advice through your supervisor, HR and the General Counsel's office if you have questions regarding a specific case.

Generally impermissible activities if University resources are used:

  • Students or employees using University networks to send bulk e-mail supporting a candidate or party;
  • Employees hosting partisan gatherings using University facilities or resources without payment for the use;
  • Students or employees using University resources to reproduce or distribute partisan campaign materials.

Activities generally not considered partisan use of University resources:

  • Hosting an all-candidate forum or debate as a public service;
  • Faculty inviting a candidate to a class to address matters related to the class;
  • Authorized student clubs using their funds to host a partisan gathering on campus or participate in a partisan event;
  • University spokespersons, students or UA advocates informing legislators, candidates and the public about University priorities, requested budgets, positions, programs, and/or research activities;
  • Employees standing at a corner on campus during lunch waving a partisan sign.

The University encourages and respects personal participation in political activity, including partisan activity. Please, however, do not use resources entrusted to us by the public for partisan purposes. At the same time, bear in mind that it is not feasible or in the University's interests to attempt to regulate minor personal use of phone or e-mail. Potential violations should be addressed after careful consideration of the circumstances and consultation with your supervisor, Human Resources and the General Counsel's office.

Click here to download a PDF copy of this memo.

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