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Separation of personal vs. institutional political advocacy

As we prepare for the 2020 Iowa Presidential Caucuses as well as the upcoming legislative session, it is important to remember Iowa State’s policies regarding political advocacy and prohibition of using university resources for political purposes. As citizens, all Iowa State employees have full rights to participate in the political process, including voicing support for, or opposition to, candidates, state and federal legislation and legal issues involving government entities. However, employees — especially faculty members and administrative leaders — should not imply that their personal views represent those of the university.

In addition, using university computers, email accounts or telephones for these purposes is not permitted, lest the public incorrectly infer that the institution endorses the position or that state resources are being improperly used to support a particular position. Employees who wish to be personally involved in political advocacy should use a non-ISU computer and email account (such as Gmail), perform such advocacy on personal time and reference a home address in communications rather than an ISU office address.

Another area for consideration is the use of classroom time for political discussions or activity. Faculty are asked to take care to ensure that any discussions are germane to the curriculum of a course and to avoid guest speakers, voter registration drives, discussions of candidates or other activities that may be perceived as partisan in nature without providing similar opportunities for members of the campus community with other viewpoints. Questions regarding employee political activity may be directed to Michael Norton, University Counsel, (515) 294-5352.

September 16, 2019 9:38 am