Policy Manual

Political Issues and Campaigns

Campus Involvement in Political Issues and Campaigns Summary: Practical Points to Remember:

  1. The University encourages all University employees to vote and to become involved in the political process, provided that they keep their partisan political activities separate from their work at Georgia College & State University.
  2. University employees should always be sensitive to the possibility that individuals who are not part of the University community will assume that they are speaking for the University when they identify themselves as University faculty or administrators in a non-work-related communication. It is especially important to be cautious about using University titles when the non-work-related communication involves partisan political activities. When a reference to a University title or position cannot be avoided in a non-work-related communication (as when the title is used by the media), the employee should clearly indicate that his or her comments or views are personal in nature and that the University title is used for identification purposes only.
  3. University employees should not use University offices or other facilities, computers, photocopiers, telephones, or other property or equipment (for example, vehicles) to engage in advocacy for or against, or fundraising for, a candidate for public office, a ballot question, or any group that seeks to influence elections.
  4. University employees should not use University letterhead, logos, or trademarks, or a University email address when engaging in private partisan political activities on behalf of, or in opposition to, a candidate for public office or a ballot question.
  5. University funds should never be used for tickets for, or to pay the cost of attending, any meal, rally, testimonial, or other fund-raising event whose purpose is to support or oppose a candidate for public office, to support or oppose a ballot question, or to influence elections.
  6. Opportunities for candidates to speak on campus and to use campus facilities for campaign advertising must be offered and granted fairly and without bias.

    In addition, please note that none of the following activities are prohibited under federal or State law:

  7. The performance of academic research related to past or current political campaigns or the issues that underlie them.
  8. The dissemination of the results of that research in a manner consistent with normal academic practice.

Summary: Practical Points To Remember

  1. The invitation of guest speakers or candidates by a student organization, provided that guest speakers on both sides of a ballot initiative and all candidates for a public office have equal opportunities to appear on campus in the same or a comparable forum through that student organization or other student organizations. Pursuant to Board of Regents' policy, the President may authorize the use of institution facilities for political speeches. However, such use shall be limited to meetings sponsored by recognized organizations of the institution and shall be held only at places designated by the president.
  2. The invitation of guest speakers by faculty or academic departments, provided that the appearance is for non-partisan educational purposes.
  3. University-initiated sponsorship or sanctioning of non-partisan educational activities relating to ballot measures or political campaigns by candidates for public office. Examples of such activities include candidate forums to which all legally qualified candidates for the same office are invited; symposia on ballot measures in which proponents and opponents of the ballot measure get an equal opportunity to participate; and the distribution of voter guides and voter education materials, provided the guides and materials comply with IRS guidelines.
  4. Voter education materials prepared by candidates, political parties, and political groups seeking to influence the outcome of elections or legislation may be distributed only if distribution is fair and on an impartial basis – for example, an area in a student gathering place where all candidates and parties may make campaign materials available to students. IRS guidelines for voter guides and educational materials require generally that all candidates be afforded an equal opportunity to comment; that questions be asked on a neutral basis; that, while length may be limited, candidate answers cannot be edited or summarized; and that candidate responses be presented in a neutral manner.
  5. University faculty teaching courses such as political science may provide a course of instruction that includes student involvement in campaign activities without specifying the candidates or ballot measures on whose behalf the students should campaign and where. Instructors may require students write papers or make class presentations evaluating their experiences.