UCSF faculty, staff, students, and trainees will soon join millions of Americans across the country and fulfill their civic responsibility by casting ballots on a range of issues and voting for candidates seeking public office at the local, state, and national levels. I encourage all of you to participate in the electoral process. It is a privilege and a right that serves as the foundation for the laws that govern our nation.
The decisions made on Tuesday, November 8, will be of great importance to all Americans. More information about the November election and about registering to vote can be found on the California Secretary of State’s website at http://www.sos.ca.gov/elections.
I also want to take this opportunity to remind the campus community that there are legal restrictions on University of California involvement in political campaign activities based on the status of the University as a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization and as a state entity. Specifically, the University may not endorse/oppose (or contribute to) political candidates, nor may University resources (including University-paid time or equipment) be used for campaign purposes in connection with ballot propositions.
I also want to emphasize that the University does not restrict any member of our community – student, academic appointee, staff employee – from exercising his or her right to engage in personal political activity. However, no member of the University community may use University facilities or resources (including time on the job) for political purposes, except as specifically permitted by University regulations. In addition, care should be taken to avoid creating any misperception of University endorsement of a particular political position.
I encourage you to review the University guidelines regarding the restrictions that apply to University of California participation in ballot initiative campaigns that are posted at the following link: http://www.ucop.edu/state-governmental-relations/advocacy/legal-guidelines-ballot-campaigns.html.
Please remember that while you are free in your private individual capacity to endorse any political candidate or either side of a ballot initiative, you must avoid any improper inference of University endorsement of a particular position. Specifically, a University employee may use his or her University title for identification purposes only, and should include a disclaimer of University endorsement if the context might reasonably cause confusion as to whether a political endorsement is made in an official or unofficial capacity. To avoid creating such a misperception, many of those endorsing in political campaigns simply list themselves by name and location – for example, Dr. John Smith, Sacramento.
Again, the limitations discussed here in no way constitute prohibitions on the right to express political views by any individual in the University community. Members of the University community are encouraged to participate in the political process, including supporting candidates and taking positions on ballot measures using their personal resources on their own time.
If you have questions or need additional information, please contact Greta Schnetzler, Chief Campus Counsel, at (415) 476-8055 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or Paul Takayama, Assistant Vice Chancellor, Community & Government Relations, at email@example.com.
Sam Hawgood, MBBS
Arthur and Toni Rembe Rock Distinguished Professor