Political Activity on Campus Policy

Effective Date
February 10, 2023

Revised Date
February 10, 2023



Policy #4.20: This policy establishes guidelines for all political activity on Hartwick College property and at Hartwick College events.

Policy Scope
This policy applies to faculty, staff, and students

Responsible Office
Human Resources

Free expression is a foundational aspect of higher education. The exchange of ideas within the Hartwick College community are considered indications of intellectual vitality and social awareness, which are critical elements in the pursuit of knowledge and the building of character. The guidelines within this policy are not intended to restrict academic freedom or the individual expression of opinions, but it is intended to assist faculty and other employee or student groups in assessing what activities are permissible or restricted under legal requirements.

Hartwick College is a tax-exempt organization under section 501 (c ) (3) of the Internal Revenue Code and is prohibited from participating in political campaign activities for any candidates running for public office. The College may, consistent with its purposes, engage in and sponsor debate and discussion about political issues. It is the support of individual candidates, campaigns or parties that is prohibited.

To ensure compliance with this legal requirement and Hartwick College policy, members of the College community will adhere to the following guidelines with respect to their participation in any national, state, or local partisan political campaign. This policy is not intended to be all inclusive.

Questions concerning matters not addressed in the policy should be directed to the Vice President of Human Resources, Inclusion and Compliance.

Hartwick College employees may become involved in political campaigns in their individual capacities, provided they take precautions to ensure that their involvement is not attributed to the College and does not involve the use of College resources. Faculty and other employees may take part in partisan political activities freely on their own time, but they must not do so at the expense of their regular responsibilities to the College and its students.

College officials engaging in political campaign activities must explicitly indicate that their actions and statements do not represent the views of the College. Individuals may identify their positions at the College if they make it clear that their affiliation with the College is provided only for identification purposes, and they do not use the College’s name in any other context. College officials may not engage in political activities at any College meetings or events; through the College publications; on College letterhead; or with College e-mail or social media accounts.

Contributions may not be solicited in the name of Hartwick College for political support or for involvement in any political campaign.

Candidates for public office may be invited to speak at the College if their appearances are for educational or informational purposes and they have College sponsorship. The format should be a speech, panel discussion and/or question-and answer session. The event or meeting cannot resemble a campaign rally.

When a candidate is invited to speak in their capacity as a political candidate (such as part of a debate), the College must ensure that it provides an equal opportunity to all political candidates running for the same office. Accordingly, when one candidate is invited to campus to speak, all candidates running for that same office need to be invited and offered comparable campus locations and times, among other things. An invited candidate’s decision not to accept the invitation, however, would not prevent the College from proceeding with events for those who did accept. Furthermore, the College should explicitly state that it does not support or oppose the political candidate in any communications referencing the candidate’s appearance, and when the candidate is introduced.

When a candidate is not speaking as part of a campaign, there is no requirement that the College provide an equal opportunity to other political candidates running for the same office. In this context, the College will ensure that the atmosphere is nonpartisan and that neither the candidate nor any representative of the College mentions the candidacy or the upcoming election.

The office or individual hosting a candidate(s) must provide and review this policy with the candidate(s) prior to their arrival on campus. Candidates that fail to comply with this policy may be required to leave the campus.

College facilities or resources may not be used for political fundraising or any other partisan political campaign activities. This includes publishing information on the College’s website or social media platforms, or in any College printed materials that support or oppose a candidate or that link to or directs to any candidate or campaign-related materials.

College facilities may be used to conduct non-partisan voter education and registration programs. Such programs must be made available to all members of the College community regardless of their political affiliation and may not be conducted in a manner that favors or opposes one or more candidates.
College facilities may be used for political figures to speak on campus or to sponsor political discussion or debate. Neither political figures, nor political candidates may use College facilities unless they have been invited by faculty, students, or staff of the College. The political event or meeting cannot resemble a campaign rally.

Any requests, internal or external, to film, photograph or otherwise record a sponsored discussion or political event taking place on campus, must be directed to the Vice President for Strategic Communications.

Nothing in this policy prevents students from becoming involved in political campaigns in their individual capacities. These guidelines, however, pertain to students and student groups to the extent they seek to use College resources. Students may not use or reference Hartwick College’s name in any manner, except to identify themselves as students. The College’s logos or other trademarks may not be used for any political campaign activity purpose.

Officially recognized Hartwick College student groups may use College facilities for meetings as long as there is no political fundraising or campaigning (including phone banking). Any student group engaging in political activities must make it clear in its written materials and at its events or meetings that its members are speaking as individuals and not on behalf of the College. Student groups must notify the Associate Vice President for Student Experience prior to developing political activities or programs.

The IRS will treat information posted on the College website and social media platforms that supports or opposes a candidate the same as printed material that is distributed. Therefore, there should be no text on the College website that supports or opposes a candidate.