Guidelines for Faculty/Staff on Political Campaign Activity

Yale University is committed to the free expression of ideas and opinions by all members of its community, including views about political issues.  While the University encourages its faculty and staff members to participate in the political process, federal law prohibits tax-exempt educational institutions from participating in campaigns on behalf of, or in opposition to, any candidate for public office (“Campaign Activity”).

These guidelines are not intended to restrict Campaign Activity that faculty and staff may undertake in an individual capacity, they are intended to assist faculty and staff in assuring the University meets its obligation. Questions regarding these guidelines or their application may be directed to Richard Jacob, Associate Vice President for Federal and State Relations, at 203-432-4949 or ofr@yale.edu.

Free Expression: Faculty and staff who wish to express their views on individuals who have declared themselves to be candidates for public office (“Candidates”) should do so in a manner that does not interfere with their work for the University and does not attribute or appear to attribute their views to the University. 

University Events and Publications: Faculty and staff planning or speaking at University sponsored events may make comments regarding Candidates provided it is clear that any such comments represent their personal views and are not the views of the University.  Faculty and staff must also refrain from including such comments in any official University publication.

Campaign Activity in Individual Capacity:  Faculty and staff who wish to participate in Campaign Activities should do so on their own time outside the course of their regular work and responsibilities for Yale.  Faculty and staff should take care when participating in Campaign Activity not to give the impression that they are representing or expressing the views of Yale, and they may not utilize University resources.  Senior University officials whose views could reasonably be construed as being attributable to Yale should be explicit that their statements and actions are undertaken in their personal capacities and not on behalf of Yale.  Faculty and staff should use their Yale title or position only for identification purposes. 

Collective Campaign Activities:  Faculty and staff who wish to work together with colleagues to participate in Campaign Activity should do so off-campus, should not use the Yale name in connection with such activity and should not state or suggest any affiliation with, support from, or sponsorship by Yale.

Fundraising and Campaign Contributions: Yale faculty and staff who wish to make or solicit contributions to Candidates should do so on their own time, without using University resources, and without using the Yale name or suggesting any support or endorsement by Yale.  Faculty and staff should refrain from soliciting contributions or other support for Candidates from employees whom they supervise.

Candidate Appearances on Campus:

  • Faculty and staff may not provide any Candidate or representative of a Candidate with an on-campus forum to promote his or her candidacy unless an equal opportunity is provided to other Candidates.
  • Faculty and staff may invite several Candidates for the same office to speak on a broad range of issues at a public forum provided it is explicitly stated that Yale does not endorse or oppose any particular Candidate, and provided further that the format of the presentation does not indicate or suggest any bias for or against a particular Candidate.
  • Faculty may invite Candidates and/or their representatives to speak to Yale students in conjunction with their candidacy as a component of a Yale course on government, politics or other related topics, provided:
    • It is explicitly stated that the appearance is not sponsored by Yale,
    • No statement is presented as being on behalf of Yale, and
    • An equal opportunity is provided to other Candidates.
    • Faculty may invite individuals who are Candidates to speak in a non-candidate capacity on topics of interest to students or the broader community provided the appearance will be nonpartisan, consisting of a lecture or speech and a question-and-answer session and not a campaign rally or fundraising event, and provided further that it is explicitly stated that the University takes no position with regard to the Candidate.
    • Faculty and staff should take care to avoid the appearance of partisan support with respect to any invitations they may extend to Candidates to speak at Yale.

Use of University Resources:  Faculty and staff may not use University resources in connection with their personal Campaign Activity.  University resources include, without limitation:

  • Yale’s name, seal or marks
  • Yale’s files, directories, databases, mailing lists or donor rolls
  • University buildings and facilities, including offices and University addresses
  • Other Yale employees, such as administrative staff
  • University funds
  • University time
  • University website, email addresses, social media accounts, listservs and campus mail
  • University-provided office supplies and equipment, such as letterhead, printers and copiers
  • University publications.

The following disclaimer should be used and may be modified as appropriate to the activities addressed in this guidance:

“This event/publication/solicitation/opinion is not sponsored, supported or authorized by Yale University.  Yale University does not participate in political campaigns on behalf of, or in opposition to, any candidate for public office.”

Rev. 9/1/2015