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Office of Governmental Relations

Political Activity

UNI’s Guidance on Political Activities

While the University of Northern Iowa respects the right of its employees and students to actively engage in the political process, state and federal laws generally prohibit the use of the University and its resources to promote partisan political causes, campaigns and candidates. Employee participation must take place on your own time and with your own equipment and supplies.

The expertise or viewpoints of individual faculty, staff, and students are frequently used when determining the impact of proposed policy or legislation on the University.  In this context, when consistent with institutional objectives, the staff of the UNI Office of Governmental Relations may facilitate direct communication to elected officials by University faculty, staff, and students.

Personal or individual communications to state or federal elected officials and their staff are permitted.  However, any communication which is not coordinated through the UNI Office of Governmental Relations should be clearly crafted so as not to imply that the individual is communicating this opinion or viewpoint on behalf of, or as a representative of, the University.

Please refer to UNI’s 10.09 Federal and State Lobbying and Political Activity policy for complete guidance. If you have questions, please contact the UNI Office of Governmental Relations at 319-273-6144.

 

Frequently asked questions about campus-related political activity

 

As a UNI faculty or staff member can I share my political views? As a citizen you can express your political views, but you should not imply that your views are that of the university.

 Can I engage in activities supporting an issue or candidate? As a citizen you may. However, state employees are prohibited from participating or supporting a particular campaign during working hours. State law also prohibits using public money and resources to advocate for or against a candidate or ballot issue, including email, university computers and other equipment. Participation must take place on your own time and with your own equipment and supplies.

 Are political rallies and candidates allowed to hold events on campus? Yes, recognized student organizations, University departments, and public groups may reserve space in public areas for political activities. Public space includes the Maucker Union, Athletic facilities and the GBPAC. Event policy usage and fees can be found on the Maucker Union website.

 Are political forums allowed? Yes, if they are balanced in nature and intended to educate the campus community on candidates or issues relevant to an election.

 Can I invite candidates or political activists to speak in my class? Federal law requires all candidates’ fair and equal access to the University. If you wish to invite candidates or advocates, you must invite all running for the office or from all sides. Candidates or advocates need not accept the invitation.

 Can I display political banners or signs? Campaign signs or banners may not be placed on state property, which includes your office or office window. However, students are allowed to display political banners and signs in their dormitory rooms.

 Can I use my title when writing a letter to the editor or op-ed? An employee may use his or her University title for purposes of identification but may not imply that the University endorses or agrees with the employee’s statements or activities. The employee should clarify that he or she is speaking individually and not on behalf of, or as a representative of, the University. Possible statements to include are: the views and opinions expressed in this letter are my own and not the University of Northern Iowa or the views and opinions expressed in this letter are those of the authors and do not reflect the official position of The University of Northen Iowa.