Tiger Paw Student Handbook 
    Apr 16, 2024  
Tiger Paw Student Handbook

Guidance on Political Campaign Activities

Guidance on Political Campaign Activities

The University of West Alabama is committed to the free and open discussion of ideas and to the principles of free expression, including the exchange of political viewpoints and ideas, for all members of campus. University employees and students have the right to participate in political activities to the same extent as any other citizen of the state, including endorsing candidates and contributing to campaigns and joining political clubs, organizations, and state/national political parties. University employees and students may also publicly support issues of public welfare. See, Ala. Code § 17-1-4. Nothing in this Policy is intended to limit the rights of employees or students to express personal opinions or engage in political activities in their individual capacities and as private citizens.


However, certain types of politically-related activities by the University or by University employees, in their official capacities, are incompatible with the University's tax-exempt status. This Policy describes the limitations on the University's involvement in the use of its resources and in political campaign activities.


This Policy prohibits the use, or appearance of use, of the University's name or resources in support of a political campaign or organization. Furthermore, no University employee shall lend, or appear to lend, the support of the University in connection with any contribution or solicitation of any contribution to a political campaign or organization. When employees are involved in political activity, it is incumbent upon them to make clear that they are acting in a private and individual capacity, and that their activities have neither University sponsorship nor support. No University employee shall use public funds, property (including stationery, stamps, office equipment, office supplies, or state automobiles), or time for any political activities. See, Ala. Code §§ 17-17-5 and 36-12-60 through 64. It is also unlawful for any University employee to solicit any type of political campaign contributions or coerce, or attempt to coerce, work in a political campaign/cause from other employees who work for that employee in a subordinate capacity. Ala. Code § 17-17-5.


University employees may not seek or hold public office and remain employed at the University if such activities could or would result in a conflict of interest or interfere with the employee carrying out his/her University responsibilities. Employees who intend to seek election to public office must first obtain written consent from the University's President through appropriate reporting channels.


This Policy shall apply to all University employees and students; however, it does not apply to permissible lobbying and public policy education efforts.


Use of University Resources for Political Events or Activities


A. University Sponsored Events


Inviting Political Candidates to Campus


The University shall not endorse or oppose any political candidate for elected public office. The University may, however, provide opportunities to educate its students, employees, and the community at large on the election process through candidate lectures, forums, debates, and other political discourse. As an institution, or through a University sponsor, the University may hold certain political events, subject to the following terms:

  1. Approval. A political event may be sponsored by a college, academic department, or administrative unit of the University only with the approval of the University President, who may consult with other administrative officers.
  2. Format. A University sponsored political event must be in the format of a candidate forum or debate, question-and-answer sessions, or similar communications in an academic setting; such events cannot be conducted as a campaign rally or similar event. All legally qualified candidates for a political office must be invited to participate on an equal basis with such limitations as may be appropriate after consulting with the Office of the President.
  3. Use of University Resources. University facilities may be made available for such events in accordance with this and all other applicable University policies. Receptions and other social activities associated with this event must include all candidates who are invited to participate in the political event.
  4. Publicity. All promotional materials for political events must include appropriate statements indicating that the University, the University sponsor, and University officials do not endorse any political candidate or any position of a political candidate. Subject to this restriction, University officers may otherwise publicize the event in any appropriate manner and encourage or arrange for coverage by media organizations.
  5. Cost, Expenses, Fees, and Honoraria. The University sponsor must pay all facility charges and ancillary service costs associated with the event, including but not limited to custodial, parking, equipment set up and operation, and security. No compensation, honorarium, or expenses may be paid to or on behalf of any political candidate.
  6. No admission may be charged for such events.
  7. No political fundraising activities may be conducted at such events.

Inviting Individuals in their Non-Candidate Capacity


The above-mentioned terms and conditions do not apply when an individual is invited by the University in their official capacity (e.g., as a sitting public official, field expert, public figure/celebrity) and not in their capacity as a political candidate. For such events, a non-partisan atmosphere should be maintained, and the individual must only speak in their non-candidate capacity and make no reference to the election. Communications regarding the event should indicate the capacity in which the individual is appearing and should not mention the individual's candidacy or the election.


B. Recognized Student Organizations


Inviting Political Candidates and Individuals in their Non-Candidate Capacity to Campus


Recognized student organizations seeking to sponsor a political event, host a political candidate, or invite an individual in his/her non-candidate capacity to campus must do so in accordance with the policies and procedures established by the University and Student Affairs for student organization-sponsored events in general.

  1. Approval and Notice. The sponsorship must be approved by the organization's leadership and advisor (if applicable), and the Office of the President must be notified prior to reserving campus facilities for the event.
  2. Use of University Resources. University facilities may be made available for such events in accordance with this and all other applicable University policies.
  3. Publicity. Promotional materials for the political event may not state or imply that the University endorses a political candidate or any position of a candidate.
  4. Cost and Expenses. The sponsoring student organization is responsible for all facility charges and ancillary service costs associated with the event, including but not limited to custodial, parking, equipment set up and operation, and security.

University Indicia (name, marks, logo, etc.) may be used to identify the location of such an event but not in such a way as to suggest that the event is officially endorsed or sponsored by the University.