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About This Policy

Responsible Officer
University President

Policy Owner
Vice President of Human Resources & Operations

Policy Contact
Vice President of Human Resources & Operations


Policy Statement

As a non-profit, private institution of higher education whose activities are regulated in part by Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code (IRS), the university is prohibited from participating in political campaigns for candidates, political parties and political organizations, or ballot initiatives, and is restricted in conducting lobbying activities. This prohibition extends to students and employees and applies to all campaigns including campaigns at the federal, state, and local level.

Participation includes distributing statements in favor of or opposed to a candidate and making direct campaign contributions of university funds, as well as in-kind, or non-cash, contributions to a candidate, political party, or political action group.

No funds maintained or administered in any university can be donated to or expended on behalf of a political campaign or political organization. Similarly, the university cannot reimburse employees for political donations, and the university also cannot coordinate university fundraising with political fundraising activities.

Employees and any person or organization acting on their behalf may not solicit or accept funds or contributions for political candidates or campaigns (their own or someone else’s) from donors identified through donor rolls or other university records or directories.

The university cannot develop or distribute voter education guides, sponsor a voter registration drive, or otherwise be associated with such materials or activity unless they are non-partisan in nature and structured in a way such that there is no indication of affiliation with, or favor or disfavor for, a political candidate or party. In addition, any such voter education efforts must not be focused so narrowly on a particular issue and must not provide information in such a manner that would reflect bias for or against a political candidate or party.

Employees may take part in partisan political activities freely on their own time, but they must not do so in the course of their regular work and responsibilities for the university.

When endorsing or opposing a candidate for political office or taking a position on an issue for the purpose of assisting or opposing a candidate, employees may not give the appearance that they are representing the university.

Employees are prohibited from displaying any political material in their office, shared spaces, or anywhere else on campus.

Campus-based faculty and staff groups are prohibited from organizing for the purpose of influencing legislation or participating in political campaigns.

Students and Student Organizations
The university is dedicated to preserving the rights of members of the university community to express their views and to protest, but all demonstrations must be peaceful, orderly, and abide by university procedures. The university does not sanction official student groups that are deemed to be politically affiliated or oriented.

Use of University Facilities and Resources
University facilities must not be made available to political candidates, political campaigns, or political organizations unless they are made available under the same terms and conditions under which facilities are made available to other organizations outside the university and unless the university charges a fair market rate for such facilities.

University-provided office supplies, mail system, computers, network, telephones, facsimile machines, copiers or other equipment, letterhead, regalia, or indicia must not be used for political participation or activity.

On-Campus Appearances by Candidates or Designees
Candidates for public office or their designees are welcome to appear on campus for non-campaign related activities, such as an educational or informational talk to the university community. Such appearances must be sponsored by a university department or officially recognized campus organization and satisfy the following criteria:

  • The individual(s) is/are chosen to speak for reasons other than candidacy for public office.
  • The individual speaks in a non-candidate capacity.
  • The event or organization maintains a nonpartisan atmosphere.
  • No specific organized campaigning activity occurs in connection with the event.
  • Any such event must be open first to the entire university community (without preference based on political affiliation) and then, if space permits, to the general public (again, without preference based on political affiliation).
  • The event meets any additional criteria appropriate for the particular event as determined by the university.

All appearances by political candidates must be approved by the Senior Leadership Team.

Access to Residence Halls by Political Candidates
In accordance with Minnesota state law, the university does not prohibit political candidates from accessing multiple units  dwellings by prior appointment as long as the candidate:

  • Has properly organized a campaign committee under all applicable laws.
  • Has filed a section 211A.02 financial report.
  • Has filed an affidavit of candidacy for elected office.
  • Provides reasonable and appropriate identification.
  • Limits their accompanying personnel, candidates, and volunteers to a reasonable number.
  • Agrees to reasonable visiting hours.

The university reserves the right to deny admittance to or to expel candidates from multiple unit dwellings for good cause.

Seeking Public Office
Faculty, staff, and students may decide to run for public office while at the university. To ensure compliance with IRS regulations and university policy, including polices relating to conflict of interest and/or a conflict of commitment, a plan to manage potential conflicts must be established upon declaration of candidacy. Plans must ensure that other employees and students do not experience a compromised educational or work environment or feel pressure to comply with the political goals of candidates.

An employee intending to seek public office must inform their associated vice president and the director of human resources to develop a plan to avoid conflicts of interest. Notification must be made no later than immediately upon declaring candidacy. Students intending to seek public office must contact the division of student development no later than the declaration of candidacy. Student development will then work with the student(s) and the appropriate university offices to develop an appropriate plan.

Employees and students are prohibited from lobbying government officials on behalf of the university unless approved by the Senior Leadership Team.

The university is required to report any sanctioned lobbying activities.

Members of the university community may lobby government officials regarding particular issues of interest to them on their own time.

Violations and Sanctions
Failure to comply with this and related policies is subject to disciplinary action, up to and including suspension without pay, or termination of employment or association with the university, in accordance with applicable procedures.

Reason For Policy

The university is committed to the free flow of ideas and opinions, and encourages its students, faculty and staff to vote and participate in civic discussions and the democratic process. As a tax-exempt, nonprofit institution, however, the university is prohibited under federal tax laws from direct involvement in the political process, and from using university resources to support or oppose a specific candidate for elective office or outcome on a political initiative. This policy addresses those prohibitions and their practical implications for faculty, staff, and students. Participating in political campaigns by or in the name of the university could jeopardize the university’s tax-exempt status.

Policy Scope

This policy applies to all students, faculty and staff, as well as to volunteers when acting or participating on behalf of the university. The policy and any guidelines published by the university regarding involvement in activities related to ballot initiatives and campaigns for public office are based upon IRS rulings concerning nonprofit corporations and other applicable judicial decisions and laws.


  • There are no procedures associated with this policy.


  • There are no procedures associated with this policy.


  • There are no appendices associated with this policy.

Additional Contacts

Primary ContactOffice of Human
Policy Interpretation - EmployeesOffice of Human
Policy Interpretation - StudentsOffice of Enrollment & Student


Ballot Initiative
A “ballot question,” “ballot measure,” “popular initiative,” “voter initiative,” “citizen initiative,” or just “initiative,” is a means by which a petition signed by a certain number of registered voters can bring about a public vote on a proposed statute or constitutional amendment.

Campaign Activity
Directly or indirectly participating in or intervening in any political campaign on behalf of or in opposition to any candidate for elective office or the promotion or opposition to a ballot referendum. Examples of campaign activity include raising funds or canvassing for a Candidate, recruiting volunteers, distributing a candidate’s campaign materials or sponsoring the appearance of a candidate for public office

A person who has filed a formal declaration of candidacy for an elected, public office or has made a public statement of their candidacy prior to the legal opportunity to declare a candidacy.

Public statements of opinion and/or contributions, monetary, in kind, or otherwise, to political campaigns.

Soliciting contributions for political candidates, campaigns, or ballot initiatives.

Acting directly or soliciting others to act for the purpose of promoting, opposing, amending, or influencing any action or inaction by any member of the executive or legislative branch of government or any public corporation.

Political Activity
Any activity, including oral or written statements and financial support, that is directed toward the success or failure of a political party, candidate for election in a partisan political campaign for public office, a partisan political group or ballot initiative.

Also includes activities that are not campaign activities nor involve the promotion or opposition to a ballot referendum, but may include voter education and registration, Candidate forums, public opinion polling, responding to constituents as a public official, and get out the vote events, as long as they are non-partisan and follow the provisions of this policy.

Political Campaign
A race between candidates for elective office, or other organized effort towards a particular election result, including for ballot initiatives.

Student Organization
University-recognized campus-based student organization.



  • Adhere to this policy.
  • Complete required reporting for lobbying activities.


  • Adhere to this policy.
  • Complete required reporting for lobbying activities.

Student Development

  • Work with university students that are seeking public office to develop a plan to address conflicts of interest and conflicts of commitment.

Human Resources

  • Work with university employees or students that are seeking public office to develop a plan to address conflicts of interest, conflicts of commitment, and other university operating procedures.

Senior Leadership Team

  • Review and approval all appearances of political candidates.
  • Approve all lobbying activities.


Related Policies & Procedures

Relevant Legislation

Other Related Information