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Political Activity Policy
Political activity of faculty and staff members at Grand Valley State University as addressed in the Grand Valley State University Board of Trustees' Policies BOT 126.96.36.199, in pertinent part, states: “The University affirms the rights of its faculty and staff members as citizens to be active in political affairs which do not conflict with the professional standards and ethics in employment.”
Further, the Board of Trustees address the subject of Academic Freedom of faculty in the Grand Valley State University Board of Trustees' Policies BOT 4.2.2 specifically sections 2 & 3:
2. Faculty members are entitled to freedom in the classroom in discussing their subject, but they should be careful not to introduce into their teaching controversial matter, which has no relation to their subject. (The words faculty member as used in this document are understood to include the investigator who is attached to an academic institution without teaching duties.)
3. University or university faculty members are citizens, members of a learned profession, and officers of an educational institution. When they speak or write as citizens, they should be free from institutional censorship or discipline, but their special position in the community imposes special obligations. As persons of learning and as educational officers, they should remember that the public may judge their profession and their institution by their utterances. Hence they should at all times act in a professional and responsible manner, and should make every effort to indicate that they are not institutional spokespersons.
In addition to University policy, state law, specifically the Michigan Campaign Finance Act, regulates political activities of public bodies, such as state universities, and its employees.
In light of University Board of Trustees’ policies and state law, the following guidelines are intended to help faculty and staff with compliance:
- Faculty and staff members may engage themselves, as private citizens, in political activities including support or opposition to candidates for office or ballot questions on their own time. If you are working for the University and charging your time to a federal grant, any activity to support a political candidate or ballot question must be conducted on personal time. For questions about federal grants, contact the Office of Sponsored Programs for more information.
- University departments or programs may sponsor presentations and discussion groups about an upcoming election provided that the purpose is to provide factual information on a political subject or issue if the communication does not support or oppose a ballot question or candidate by name or clear inference.
- Classroom discussions of candidates and ballot questions must be related to course content as described in the catalog and course syllabus. A reminder to students to register to vote and to vote is permissible.
- Faculty and staff members may express their support or opposition to candidates or ballot questions by wearing buttons.
- Faculty and staff members, as private citizens, may elect to lend their names to support one or more candidates for office or in support of or opposition to a ballot question. However, care must be exercised to assure that the faculty or staff member does not use their University title in relation to such advocacy.
- Faculty and staff members shall not use University resources for political activity to support or oppose candidates for office or ballot questions. “University resources” includes, but is not limited to:
a. University funds or money administered through a University budget;
b. University facilities including office space or meeting rooms (except speech in open forum areas) or use of University office address;
c. University equipment including office or cellular telephones, computer hardware or software, printers, copiers and facsimile machines;
d. University-provided email addresses or use of the University email system;
e. University supplies including stationary, paper, postage, pens, pencils, and other office supplies;
f. University identifying marks including trademarks, logos, University letterhead, and University titles; and
g. University time including when the faculty or staff member is working or the use of clerical or student worker time.