Policy on use of university resources and facilities for political activities

To: UCSC Staff and Faculty

From: Donna Blitzer, Director of Government and Community Relations

As election season is in full swing, this may be a good time to take a moment to review relevant University policies regarding appropriate use of University facilities and resources.

As a public institution and 501(c)(3) entity, the University is prohibited from becoming directly or indirectly involved in campaigns of political candidates for public office. This prohibition against political campaign activity has been in effect for more than half a century and bars certain tax-exempt organizations from engaging on behalf of or in opposition to political candidates. Various University policies reflect this prohibition.

First, the University's policy on "Restrictions on the Use of University Resources and Facilities for Political Activities"(http://www.ucop.edu/ucophome/coordrev/policy/9-18-70.html) contains useful guidance on how to avoid the presentation of opinions in a way that mistakenly implies endorsement by the University. The policy provides that in correspondence, statements, or other materials relating to political activities (such as the expression of support or opposition to ballot measures or candidates for political office), the University title of a faculty or staff member should be used for identification purposes only. If such identification "might reasonably be construed as implying the support, endorsement, advancement, or opposition of the University," the identification should be accompanied by an explicit disclaimer that the individual is speaking for himself or herself and not as a representative of the University or any of its offices or units.

A University employee may allow use of his/her name and title for identification purposes in the same manner as others who sign an expression of support or opposition. However, an express disclaimer of University endorsement is required where the context might reasonably cause confusion as to whether the endorsement is made in an official or unofficial capacity. All doubts should be resolved in favor of a clarifying disclaimer. Disclaimers should be legible and clearly placed on the document.

Second, University policy prohibits the use of University equipment, supplies and services for or in connection with political campaign activities. In addition, University email services, which although permitted for incidental personal use, may not be used to give the impression that the user represents, gives opinions, or otherwise makes statements on behalf of the University, unless appropriately authorized to do so. (http://www.ucop.edu/ucophome/policies/ec/)

Finally, University policy establishes the approved use of University letterhead. Among other things, it makes clear that while the University vigorously asserts the principle of academic freedom of expression, individuals or groups within the University community are not permitted (unless expressly authorized), to present opinions in ways that imply endorsement by the University. ("Policy on Representation of the University on Letterhead and Business Cards", http://www.ucop.edu/ucophome/policies/ec/ )

We hope the above information provides useful guidance. If you have any questions, please direct them to the Office of Campus Counsel, at campuscounsel@ucsc.edu.