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Political Activities

Political Activities

Office of the University Counsel
700 Northern Blvd.
Brookville, NY 11548-1327
Phone: 516-299-3665

Policy Statement

The primary purpose of the University is to create and share knowledge. Toward that end, the University promotes discussion of important issues in society, including the free expression and exchange of political viewpoints and ideas. The University will support and protect the freedoms of speech, expression, petition, peaceable assembly and association.

The University also encourages its students, faculty and staff to exercise fully the rights of citizenship, including participation in the political life of their communities, the state and the nation, and to educate and involve themselves in world affairs. Nothing in this Policy is intended to limit the rights of students, faculty or staff to express personal opinions or to engage in political activity in their individual capacities and as private citizens.

The University shall not, through its officials or units, participate or intervene in any political campaign on behalf of, or in opposition to, any candidate for public office. This prohibits the University from donating to political candidates, political campaign organizations, political parties, political action committees (PACS) and "Section 527 Organizations." This policy also prohibits the University’s direct or indirect payment or reimbursement of costs incurred by University officials, administrators, faculty and staff to attend a candidate campaign event, such as a breakfast, lunch, dinner or gala, including, without limitation, events sponsored by a PAC.

In addition, University officials, administrators, faculty, and staff are not authorized in their official capacity to make public or media statements in support of, or in opposition to, a political campaign or candidate for public office. When making such statements in their capacity as private citizens, such persons must indicate clearly that they are not representing the University or speaking for, or on behalf of, the University.

Reason for the Policy

The purpose of this Policy is to establish guidelines to prevent intervention in political activity and procedures for using campus facilities for political events that comply with federal tax laws governing tax-exempt organizations.

Applicability of Policy

This Policy applies to all University students, faculty and staff, and all University services, activities, operations and facilities.

Policy Elaboration

1. Political Events Sponsored by the University

Participation and Sponsorship: Although the University is a public, tax-exempt institution and therefore is not permitted to endorse any political philosophy or any candidate for public office, it will provide opportunities to educate its students, faculty, staff, and citizens at large through candidate lectures, forums, debates and other political discourse on campus. As detailed below, the University may, as an institution or through its academic or administrative units, sponsor certain political events.

Institutional Event Procedures:

Approval. A political event may be sponsored by a college, school, center, academic department, or administrative unit of the University. Sponsorship of the event must be approved by the applicable dean, director, or vice president. A University-sponsored political event must be in the format of a candidate forum or debate in which all viable candidates for a political office are invited to participate. Campus facilities will be made available for events in accordance with the Policies and Procedures for Use of Facilities and Grounds and any associated guidelines. Receptions and other social activities must include all candidates who were invited to participate in the political event.

Publicity. Promotional material for the political event may not state or imply that the University, any unit, or any institutional official endorses a political candidate or political organization or any position of a political candidate or political organization. Subject to this restriction, the University may otherwise publicize the event in any manner it deems appropriate and may arrange for coverage by media organizations, including campus media.

Costs, Expenses, Fees, and Honoraria. Facilities rental charges will be waived, but the institutional sponsor must pay all service costs associated with the event, including, without limitation, security services, custodial services, parking assistance, audio-visual equipment set-up and operation, and the like. No compensation, honorarium, or expenses may be paid to any political candidate or political organization; no admission fee may be charged; no political fundraising activities may be conducted; and only non-partisan voter registration activities may take place.

2. Political Events Sponsored By University-Recognized Groups and Organizations

Approval. A political event may be sponsored by a University-recognized student, faculty, or staff group or organization. The sponsorship must be approved by the organization’s president. Campus facilities will be made available for events in accordance with the Policies and Procedures for Use of Facilities and Grounds and any associated guidelines. Receptions and other social activities must include all candidates who were invited to participate in the political event.

Publicity. Promotional material for the political event may not state or imply that the University endorses the political candidate or political organization or any position of the candidate or organization. The sponsoring organization may limit the extent of media coverage of the event, subject to the University’s right to publicize the event in any manner it deems appropriate.

Disclaimer statement. At the beginning of each political event, after the event is fully convened, the political candidate or a representative of the political candidate, the political organization, or the sponsoring group or organization must deliver the following spoken disclaimer: "This event is sponsored by ________. The use of Long Island University’s facilities for this event does not constitute an endorsement by the University. Long Island University does not endorse this candidate or organization or any other candidate or organization in connection with this or any other political campaign or election."

Costs, Expenses, Fees, Honoraria. Facilities rental charges will be waived, but the sponsoring organization must pay all service costs associated with the event, including, without limitation, security services, custodial services, parking assistance, audio-visual equipment set-up and operation, and the like. The sponsoring group may charge admission only in the amount necessary to cover reasonable costs of the event. No political fundraising activities may be conducted, and only non-partisan voter registration activities may take place.

No political events may occur on campus during the seventeen-day period leading up to an election.

3. Candidate or Campaign Use of University Facilities

Event Sponsorship and Procedures:

Approval. A candidate, campaign, political party or other political organization acting independently, without a University sponsor, may request to rent University facilities. Campus facilities will be made available for events in accordance with this Policy and the Policies and Procedures for Use of Facilities and Grounds and any associated guidelines. The President, or her/his designee, has final authority to approve or disapprove the use of University facilities for any political event.

Publicity. Promotional material for the political event may not state or imply that the University endorses the political candidate or political organization or any position of the candidate or organization. Requests for press conferences or similar events on campus by, or on behalf of, political candidates or their campaigns are subject to this Policy.

Disclaimer statement. At the beginning of each political event, after the event is fully convened, the political candidate or a representative of the political candidate, the political organization, or the sponsoring group or organization must deliver the following disclaimer: "This event is sponsored by ________. The use of Long Island University’s facilities for this event does not constitute an endorsement by the University. The University does not endorse this candidate or organization or any other candidate or organization in connection with this or any other political campaign or election."

Costs, Expenses, Fees, and Honoraria. The political candidate or political organization must pay the full facility rental charge. The facility must be available, and the event must not interfere with University activities. The political candidate or political organization must pay all service costs associated with the event, including, without limitation, security services, custodial services, parking assistance, audio-visual equipment set-up and operation, and the like. The political candidate or political organization may charge admission only in an amount necessary to cover reasonable costs of the event. No political fundraising activities may be conducted, and only non-partisan voter registration activities may take place. All facility rental charges and the estimated services costs must be paid in full in advance of the event.

No political events may occur on campus during the seventeen-day period leading up to an election.

4. Political Appointments or Elective Office

Administrators, faculty and staff may accept political appointments or elective office in accordance with otherwise applicable University policies regarding conflicts of commitment or interest and leaves of absence.

5. Persons employed in Federally-Aided Programs

Faculty and staff employed in federally-aided programs may be subject to the federal Hatch Political Activities Act. Those persons should consult with the Office of University Counsel regarding their associated obligations.

6. Institutional Resources

University employees and students are prohibited from using institutional resources (such as funds, vehicles, FAX or duplicating equipment, supplies, services or mailing labels), for political campaign purposes, except as permitted by this Policy. In addition, they may not use the University seal, letterhead, symbols, or other proprietary marks of institutional affiliation to endorse, or for or on behalf of, political parties, campaigns or candidates.

7. Interpretation

Any questions or disputes arising under this Policy shall be referred to the Office of University Counsel for resolution.

8. Illustrative Guidance:

a. Examples of permissible activities include:

  1. Non-partisan course work and assignments designed to educate students regarding the political process.

  2. Non-partisan education or training programs created to enhance public understanding of the electoral process.

  3. Student political editorials.

  4. Public forums to which all candidates are invited and to whom equal access and opportunity are provided.

  5. Non-partisan candidate surveys or public opinion polls.

  6. Personal, individual membership in a political party.

  7. Voting in any elections (with time off as authorized by applicable leave policies)

b. Public expression of views in a personal capacity. Examples of impermissible activities include:

  1. Endorsement of political candidates by the institution, its officials, administrators, employees or agents in their official capacity.

  2. Donation of campaign contributions by institutional officials in their official capacity or on behalf of the institution.

  3. University reimbursement of its officials, administrators, faculty or staff for political donations or activities.

  4. Linkage of voter education or registration activities with campaign events.

  5. Participation in political activities during regularly scheduled work hours.

Definitions

Political candidate: A person who has publicly announced an intention to be a candidate for national, state, or local public office or is being promoted publicly to join a race and become an official candidate. A viable candidate is someone who the media, the public and political observers believe can generate support and potentially win election. Candidates must fundraise effectively and win public support in opinion polls to be considered viable. An incumbent public official is not a political candidate until she/he has publicly announced an intention to run for reelection or another public office.

Political event: An event at which a political candidate or political organization speaks or is prominently featured. “Political event” also includes any event that has the purpose or primary effect of promoting a particular political candidate. A classroom presentation by a political candidate or political organization at the request of the instructor of a credit or non-credit course of the University is not a political event if the speaker is chosen solely for reasons other than candidacy for public office.

Political organization: A political campaign organization, political party, political action committee, so-called “section 527 organization,” or similar organization that supports a political candidate or the views of a political candidate.

Sponsor: A University college, school, center, academic department, administrative unit, or University-recognized organization that provides a specific University budget number for all fees and charges associated with a political event.

University-recognized organization: An organization recognized by the President or other University Officer.

Contacts

Questions related to the daily operational interpretation of this policy should be directed to: Office of University Counsel, 516-299-3665.

The University Counsel is responsible for the review and interpretation of the Policy as needed. This Policy will be applied consistent with IRS or other applicable legal guidance.

Effective Date

Adopted by the Long Island University Board of Trustees on April 14, 2009.