Free Expression and Political Activities Regulation 116
|Regulation 116||Approved: May 3, 2021|
|UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA SCHOOL OF THE ARTS
Free Expression and Political Activities
|Source of Authority:||
N.C.G.S. §§ 126-13 & 14
UNC Policy Manual § 300.5
N.C.G.S. § 116-34(a); 116-36
UNC Code § 502(A)
UNC Board of Governors Policy 1300.8, Policy on Free Speech and Free Expression Within the University of North Carolina System
United States Constitution, First Amendment
North Carolina Constitution, Section 14
First Issued: February 17, 2011
Revised May 3, 2021
|Related Policies and Regulations:||
Political Activities of Employees, N.C.G.S. Chapter 126, Article
|Effective Date:||May 3, 2021|
I. Purpose and Scope
The UNC Code’s guarantee of academic freedom is a fundamental principle for UNCSA:
The University and each constituent institution shall protect faculty and students in their responsible exercise of the freedom to teach, to learn, and otherwise to seek and speak the truth.
UNCSA encourages all members of its community to engage in the fundamental individual rights of free expression and participation in the political process, and every member of the UNCSA community has the right to freely express their views on any subject, including advocacy for or against candidates for public office, and issues of the day. The North Carolina General Assembly and the UNC Board of Governors have enacted statutes and policies to guarantee those rights, while also providing reasonable limitations on the exercise of those rights. UNCSA has adopted policies and regulations which respond to the directives of the General Assembly and Board of Governors.
This regulation is meant to provide students, faculty, and staff basic guidance and resources to understand the parameters of free expression and participation in the political process at UNCSA. This regulation supplements other laws, policies, and regulations which address specific free expression and political activities issues.1
II. UNC Board of Governors Policy on Free Speech and Free Expression Within the University of North Carolina System, Policy 1300.8
a. Following the North Carolina General Assembly’s enactment of the Campus Free Speech Act, the UNC Board of Governors adopted Policy 1300.8, which provides the foundation for a constituent institution’s role in free expression and participation in the political process, and provides the necessary balancing of the rights of individuals with the needs of the institution. The policy states:
[T]he primary function of the University of North Carolina and each of its constituent institutions is the discovery, improvement, transmission, and dissemination of knowledge by means of research, teaching, discussion, and debate. To fulfill this function, each constituent institution must strive to ensure the fullest degree of intellectual freedom and free expression. It is not the proper role of any constituent institution to shield individuals from speech protected by the First Amendment, including, without limitation, ideas and opinions they find unwelcome, disagreeable, or even deeply offensive.
b. Students, faculty, and staff have the freedom to discuss any issue that presents itself, as the First Amendment permits, and assemble and engage in spontaneous expressive activity within the limits of neutral restrictions on time, place, and manner of expression – provided the activity is lawful and does not materially and substantially disrupt the functioning of the constituent institution.2 UNCSA’s time, place, and manner restrictions are detailed in UNCSA Policy 402 and UNC Board of Governors Policy 1300.8.
c. The Board of Governors has made it clear that the constituent institution’s role in public controversies is limited:
In support of the essential role universities hold, the constituent institutions may not take action, as an institution, on the public policy controversies of the day in such a way as to require students, faculty, or administrators to publicly express a given view of social policy.
III. Free Expression and University Employment
a. University employment does not abridge the basic rights of free expression and the ability to participate in the political process, or the basic assurances for academic freedom and inquiry. But there are important limits on political activities during employment and when using university resources.3
b. The UNC System Office has provided a comprehensive explanation of those limits in its Reminders Regarding University Employment and Political Activities4 and in UNC Board of Governors Policy 300.5.1.
c. To ensure that your employment is not jeopardized, and the integrity of the institution is preserved, some of the most important statutory and policy limitations to be aware of include:
i. No employee may engage in political activity while on duty. You cannot campaign for or against a candidate, political party, or partisan political group.
ii. No employee may promise or confer preferential treatment or threaten detrimental treatment to any person to induce support for or opposition to a candidate, political office, or partisan political group.
iii. No employee may use their position to secure support for, or to oppose, any candidate or issue in an election involving candidates for office or party nominations.
iv. No employee may imply to others that the political opinions they express are endorsed by the university.
v. No individual or group may use state or university funds, services (including mail and email service), supplies (including letterhead and postage), equipment (including telephones, computers, photocopiers, and fax machines), vehicles, or other university property to secure support for, or to oppose, any person or issue in any election. This last point is particularly important because it prohibits the use of UNCSA email to support or oppose any candidate or issue in an election.
IV. Public Access for Free Expression and Dissemination of Materials
a. Consistent with the First Amendment, most areas of campus are dedicated to the educational mission of UNCSA, are not open for general use, and are secured for safety and security reasons.
b. Open common areas of the UNCSA campus are limited public forums available for First Amendment expression by members of the community. These forums are restricted only by the time, place, and manner restrictions in UNCSA Facilities Use Policy 402, UNCSA Regulation 404, and UNC Board of Governors Policy 1300.8, to maintain the educational mission of the university. These restrictions respect the mission of the institution and the privacy rights of the students, faculty, and staff, by maintaining the environment of teaching and learning – which is our primary purpose.
c. Posting and dissemination of free expression materials is allowed and governed by the time, place, and manner restrictions in UNCSA Bulletin Boards and Disseminated Materials Regulation 403.
V. Revision History
A. February 17, 2011 – Adopted by Board of Trustees as part of UNCSA Policy Manual
B. May 3, 2021 - Revised to make current and reference other updated policies/regulations.
 See, e.g., UNCSA Facilities Use Policy 402; Bulletin Boards and Disseminated Materials Regulation 403; Campus Grounds and Facility Access Regulation 404; The UNCSA Statement on Freedom of Speech and Expression; UNC Board of Governors Policy on Free Speech and Free Expression Within the University of North Carolina System, Policy 1300.8; Article 36 of Chapter 116 of the North Carolina General Statutes, Campus Free Speech; Article 5 of Chapter 126 of the North Carolina General Statutes, Political Activities of Employees; UNC Policy Manual 100.1, The Code, Chapter VI Academic Freedom and Tenure.
 Board of Governors Policy 1300.8 does not apply to UNCSA high school students because the First Amendment is interpreted more narrowly for free expression by K-12 students. However, UNCSA is committed to the rights of free expression for all members of its community, including high school students, to the full extent of the law and policy.
 For employees subject to the State Human Resources Act (SHRA), political activities are governed by Article 5, Chapter 126 of the North Carolina General Statutes, policies adopted by the Office of State Human Resources (OSHR), and UNCSA campus policies.