Guidelines for Students 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 students to engage fully in the political process for the sake of contributing to civic debate and to enhance their education, federal law prohibits tax-exempt educational institutions from engaging in any activity on behalf of, or in opposition to, any candidate’s campaign for public office (“Campaign Activity”).  Campaign Activity includes, for example, sponsoring the appearance of a declared candidate for public office (“Candidate”), raising funds or canvassing for a Candidate, or distributing a Candidate’s campaign literature.

In order to assure that student Campaign Activity cannot be attributed to the university, students and student organizations should engage in Campaign Activities in a manner consistent with these guidelines.  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.

Voter Education Activities:  Student organizations may conduct voter education and registration activities on campus, including holding public forums, publishing voter education guides, and coordinating voter registration drives and get-out-the-vote events. If these activities are conducted on behalf of or in opposition to a Candidate rather than on a non-partisan basis, the student organization must make clear the activity does not have the support or endorsement of the university by including a disclaimer (provided below) in printed materials and oral presentations; must not use University funds or resources (defined below) in the planning or conduct of the Campaign Activity; and must determine whether that activity requires obtaining permission and, if so, must obtain permission from the relevant Yale office and observe all university policies regarding the use of campus spaces and facilities, including paying any usual facility fee.

Candidate Appearances:  A student organization may invite individuals who have declared themselves to be Candidates and/or their representatives to speak on campus on topics of interest to students or the broader community. If the appearance will include Campaign Activity, the student organization must make clear the activity does not have the support or endorsement of the university by including a disclaimer (provided below) in printed materials and oral introductions; must not use university funds or resources (defined below) in the planning or conduct of the Campaign Activity; and must determine whether that activity requires obtaining permission and, if so, must obtain permission from the relevant Yale office and observe all university policies regarding the use of campus spaces and facilities, including paying any usual facility fee.

A student organization may invite a Candidate, and/or the Candidate’s campaign representatives, to speak on campus in connection with the Candidate’s campaign provided the student organization makes clear the activity does not have the support or endorsement of the university by including a disclaimer (provided below) in printed materials and oral introductions; does not use university funds or resources (defined below) in the planning or conduct of the Campaign Activity; and determines whether that activity requires obtaining permission and, if so, obtains permission from the relevant Yale office and observes all university policies regarding the use of campus spaces and facilities, including paying any usual facility fee.

A Candidate who is a Yale student or is invited and accompanied by a Yale student ordinarily may engage in Campaign Activity in the common area of a university facility, or in a private university residential area if a student living in that area escorts them, provided it is made clear the activity does not have the support or endorsement of the university by including a disclaimer (provided below) in printed materials and oral introductions; no university funds or resources (defined below) are used in the planning or conduct of the Campaign Activity; and if that activity requires obtaining permission, such permission is obtained from the relevant Yale office and all university policies regarding the use of campus spaces and facilities, including paying any usual facility fee, are observed.

In addition, organization leadership is expected to notify the Office of Secretary at least 72 hours in advance of the appearance on campus of any Candidate.

Fundraising for a Candidate:  A student may solicit funds on behalf of a Candidate provided the student does not state or imply Yale endorsement, and does not use any university funds or resources (defined below) in the planning or conduct of the solicitation.

A student organization may conduct a phone bank within university facilities if the student organization and the participants make clear the activity does not have the support or endorsement of the university by including a disclaimer (provided below) in printed materials and oral communications; does not use university funds or resources (defined below) in the planning or conduct of the activity; and determines whether that activity requires obtaining permission and, if so, obtains permission from the relevant Yale office and observes all university policies regarding the use of campus spaces and facilities, including paying any usual facility fee.

Student Publications:  Student publications may publish editorials expressing the editors’ views on Candidates if a statement on the editorial page indicates that the views expressed are those of the student editors and not those of the university. 

Disclaimer:  Introductions of Candidates, student-published campaign literature, announcements or solicitations, and any Campaign Activity communications should include the following disclaimer:

“This event/publication/solicitation is sponsored solely by the [name of student organization] without support or endorsement of Yale University. Yale University does not participate in political campaigns on behalf of, or in opposition to, any candidate for public office”.

University Funds and Resources:  Students and student organizations may not use university funds or resources in the planning or conduct of Campaign Activities. University resources include IT, telecommunication or media systems; university sponsored websites and social media platforms; email or voicemail systems; listservs; telephones; computers; photocopy machines; printers; campus addresses; food and refreshments; other services, equipment and personnel.

Students or student organizations participating in off-campus Campaign Activity may use Yale Dining meal plans to procure packaged meals for their own use.

Students or student organizations may not use, or allow others to use, or link to a university-hosted website if they are engaging in Campaign Activity. Student organizations using a university-hosted website may not link to other sites engaged in Campaign Activity.

Use of Yale Name:  Students or student organizations may not use Yale’s name (unless it is an approved component part of the organization’s name), seal or mark in any communication (e.g., canvassing, letters, emails, telephone calls, listservs, websites, solicitations, etc.) involving Campaign Activity.

Rev. 8-23-16