Guidelines Concerning Use of University Resources for Political Campaign Activities
The General Rules of the University of Illinois, established by the Board of Trustees, prohibit private use of University property and services. This policy implements the requirement of the Illinois Constitution that “public funds, property or credit shall be used only for public purposes.” Additionally, the State Officials and Employees Ethics Act (“Ethics Act”) passed in 2003 explicitly prohibits the use of University property and resources for political campaign activities.
Consistent with these requirements, University property and services (e.g., space and equipment, campus mail, computers and e-mail, postage, photocopying and fax, vehicles, etc.) may not be used for political campaign activities. This stipulation applies both to University faculty, staff and students, and to individuals external to the University. Certainly, all members of the University community – faculty, staff and students – have the right to freely express their views on any subject, including advocacy for/against candidates for public office. In exercising these rights, however, the resources of the University cannot be used. Engagement in political campaign activities by University employees should be conducted independent of their University employment and at times when such activity does not interfere with their employment obligations to the University.
- University Ethics Officer website for more information about the kinds of political activities covered by the Ethics Act;
- “University Policy on Conflicts of Commitment and Interest”;
- “Academic Staff Handbook Academic Freedom and Faculty Responsibility”;
- “Civil Service System Policy and Rules -- Political Activities”; and
- “Campus Administrative Manual, Use of University Premises and Facilities”.
Political events (fundraisers, debates, rallies, candidate announcements, etc.) are permitted on the campus as long as they are sponsored or hosted by registered student organizations and all expenses related to the activity (including fees to cover space rental) are borne by the candidate, political organizations or student organizations. University facilities may be rented for political events in accordance with campus policy on use of University premises and facilities. Such sponsored events may not be “subsidized” or otherwise supported by the University.
It is important to reiterate that these guidelines apply explicitly to the use of public resources in support of “political campaign activities”. They certainly are not intended to limit discussion among scholars and others regarding political or campaign issues or candidates.