Political Activities Regulation 116

Regulation 116 Approved: February 17, 2011
Political Activities Regulation
Regulation 116
Source of Authority: N.C. G.S. §§ 126-13 & 14;
UNC Policy Manual § 300.5;
N.C.G.S. § 116-34(a);
UNC Code § 502(A)
Revision Authority: Chancellor
History: First Issued: February 17, 2011
Related Policies and Regulations: Political Activities of Employees, N.C.G.S. Chapter 126, Article 5;
UNC Policy Manual § 300.5;
Conflicts of Interest (Employees) Policy 603;
Facilities Use Policy 402;
Improper Activities Reporting Regulation 114
Responsible Offices: Chancellor
Effective Date: February 17, 2011

I. Purpose

This regulation provides guidance to employees and students concerning limitations on political activities, candidacy, and holding political office.

II. Scope

This regulation applies to all UNCSA employees and students.

III. Definitions

A. “Officer Employee” means any individual classified as the Chancellor or as an SAAO I or SAAO II employee.

B. “Speech” means any communication, whether oral, written, electronic, etc.

C. “Voter Guides” means pamphlets or materials intended to help voters compare candidates’ positions on issues.

IV. Regulation

A. Individual & Institutional Political Activity

1. Political Free Speech. UNCSA employees and students have political free speech rights, subject to the limitations set forth in this regulation.

2. Institutional Limitations. UNCSA, and any employee acting in an official UNCSA capacity, may not engage in political speech or participate in a political campaign in a partisan manner. This limitation prohibits UNCSA from:

a. giving political endorsements;

b. making campaign contributions from any funds coming directory or indirectly from UNCSA, including, but not limited to, contributions of funds and in-kind gifts such as the use of UNCSA services, facilities, etc.;

b. distributing materials favoring or opposing a candidate; and

c. using UNCSA’s assets or facilities for partisan political activity by a particular candidate(s) or for a voter registration activity favoring a particular candidate(s) or political party.

3. Prohibited Conduct for Employees

a. During work hours, an employee may not: campaign for office; manage a campaign for office; coerce another employee to support, contribute to or oppose a political candidate or party or to change voter registration; promise preferential treatment or threaten detrimental treatment to induce political support; or engage in any other political activity.

b. Employees may not use university resources (including but not limited to telephones, email, electronic or physical mailing lists, copiers, official bulletin boards, campus structures or facilities, etc.) to support or oppose any candidate.

c. Employees may not engage in political activities on behalf of the institution or when acting in an official activity.

d. While an individual officer employee may communicate in his or her personal capacity regarding a political matter, this individual must not make partisan comments in official institutional publications, at official UNCSA functions, or when otherwise functioning as a UNCSA officer employee.

e. When a non-officer employee is in a position to speak for the institution (ex: statements made to vendors or statements made at official functions), employees must take care to avoid partisan comments.

f. Supervisors may not make or enforce any rule or policy which interferes with a State employee’s engagement in political activities when not performing state service.

g. An employee who wishes to hold political office must comply with UNC policies §§ 300.5.1 through 300.5.6 as amended from time to time.

B. Use of State Facilities. UNCSA may rent its facilities to a candidate or political party so long as the rental opportunity is available to any political candidate or party, does not constitute an endorsement of the candidate or party, and the rental fee is the fair market or routine rate for which the facility is rented. See this regulation’s procedures for more guidance.

C. Issue Advocacy

  1. In certain circumstances, UNCSA may take a position on public policy issues, including issues that divide candidates in a particular election. However, such advocacy must not function as a political endorsement of a candidate or party.
  2. The Chancellor, Vice Chancellor of Advancement or his/her designee, Vice Chancellor of Economic Development and Chief of Staff, and Vice Chancellor of Institutional Integrity and General Counsel must consider the statement’s timing, content, its connection to other issues, and the distribution of the message to ensure that no candidate or party is endorsed. This regulation’s procedures include factors to be considered in making this determination.

D. Permissible Educational Activities

  1. Educational activities must be balanced and may not favor or oppose a particular candidate.
  2. Educational discussion about elections, candidates, and issues is permissible.
  3. A candidate may be a classroom guest speaker as long as the speaker does not speak as a candidate or promote his/her election.
  4. No classroom event may become a campaign event or promote a candidate or a political party.

E. Candidate Forum and Appearance. Candidates for public office may be invited to campus to speak if the event is presented and conducted in an unbiased manner.

1. Speaking as Candidates. Candidates may be invited to speak as candidates if:

a. All other candidates for the same office receive an equal opportunity to participate;

b. UNCSA does not support or oppose any of the candidates (and communicates this fact in all announcements of the event);

c. No fundraising occurs at the event; and

d. If candidates are invited to appear at different times or in different locations, the times and locations must be similar with respect to attractiveness, timeliness, and effectiveness.

2. Speaking as Individuals.

a. Candidates speaking as an individual (not as a candidate) may be invited to speak for the reasons such as, but not limited to:

i. he/she currently or formerly holds a public position;

ii. he/she is considered an expert in a non-political field; or

iii. he/she is an important public figure or has a distinguished career otherwise.

b. The following requirements apply when such individuals are invited to speak:

i. The individual must be chosen to speak solely for reasons other than his or her candidacy.

ii. The individual speaks only in a capacity other than that of a candidate.

iii. Neither the individual nor any UNCSA representative notes or mentions the candidacy or the election.

iv. No campaign activity occurs in connection with the appearance.

v. A nonpartisan atmosphere must be maintained during the event.

vi. All announcements and communications concerning the event must not note or indicate the candidacy or election.

3. Multiple Candidates. Public forums where multiple candidates speak must be staged in a non-biased manner.

4. Campus Event Attendance

a. Candidates may attend campus events open to the public.

b. If these individuals are recognized in any way, the announcement or communication cannot note or indicate the candidacy or election.

c. It is impermissible to allow any fundraising or partisan activities at any campus event.

F. UNCSA does not accept paid political advertising.

G. Cancellation & Cessation of Events. The Chancellor, Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost, or Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administration may cancel any event which violates this regulation. Furthermore, they may stop any event which may have begun in compliance with this regulation but which becomes in violation of this regulation during the course of the event.

V. Revision History

A. February 17, 2011 – Adopted by Board of Trustees as part of UNCSA Policy Manual



Political Activities Procedures

Procedure #116

I. Limitation on Use of UNCSA Assets and Facilities for Partisan and Political Purposes

A. Distribution of Campaign Materials

1. UNCSA facilities and services cannot be used to distribute campaign materials.

2. The use of campus mail services, campus email, campus vehicles, official UNCSA communication media, official bulletin boards and official communication channels (e.g. Campus announcement email) to distribute partisan materials is prohibited.

3. It is not permissible to use official buildings, designated bulletin boards or other UNCSA signage for political advertising.

B. Mailing Lists and Websites

1. UNCSA mailing lists and websites, including official websites, may not be used for political activity.

2. Generally speaking, links on websites also may not contain partisan political material, unless the link provides material on all candidates in a manner that does not amount to partisan support.

UNCSA also does not accept paid political advertising.

C. Facility Rentals. UNCSA will rent facilities on an equal opportunity first-come, first-served basis, and at a prevailing market rate basis so long as the transaction does not appear to promote or oppose a specific candidate or party.

II. Issue Advocacy

A. In certain circumstances, UNCSA may take a position on public policy issues.

B. The Chancellor, Vice Chancellor of Advancement or his/her designee, Vice Chancellor of Economic Development and Chief of Staff, and Vice Chancellor of Institutional Integrity and General Counsel must consider the following factors in determining whether an institutional statement is a prohibited political endorsement:

1. Does the statement identify candidate(s)?

2. Does the statement express approval or disapproval of a candidate, a position or an action identified with a candidate?

3. Is the statement to be issued near the time of the election?

4. Does the statement mention voting or the upcoming election?

5. Is the statement about an issue that distinguishes a particular candidate from other candidates?

6. Is the statement part of a series of statements that are not tied to the timing of the election?

7. If the statement identifies a candidate, is it to be made in connection with a non-electoral event?

III. Voter Registration, Education, and Voter Guide Distribution

A. Voter Registration

1. Non-partisan voter registration and education activities are permissible, but any registration effort or “get-out-the vote” campaign which directly or indirectly favors or opposes a candidate or political party is prohibited.

2. UNCSA is not permitted to work with partisan groups in voter registration activities if the manner or effect of the activity is to favor or oppose a candidate, political cause, or political party.

B. Voter Guides

1. The following factors must be considered in preparation of any voter guides by UNCSA.

a. Are the questions clear and unbiased in structure and content?

b. Are the questions posed to the candidates the same questions included in the guide?

c. Did the candidates have a reasonable amount of time to answer the questions?

d. If the questions could be answered with a “yes” or “no”, did the candidate have a reasonable opportunity to explain his response? Was the response included in the guide?

e. Were the answers unedited?

f. Was all candidates for an office included on the guide (were they at least invited?)?

g. Were the number of questions and the subjects covered sufficient to cover the major issues in the election?

2. When assessing all of these factors, it is important to consider all facets of the voter guide including its format, content and distribution.

3. These same factors must be considered if UNCSA is asked to distribute a voter guide of a third party. If any part of such a voter guide does not meet the above criteria, UNCSA may not distribute the pamphlet for the third party.