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Administration offers guidance on political expression

DATE:   September 6, 2019
TO:        All Employees
FROM:  Turina Bakken, Provost and Tim Casper, VP of Institutional Learning and Effectiveness
RE:         Appropriate Conduct at Work Regarding the Campaign and Election Activities

Greetings Colleagues,

Welcome to the start of the Fall Semester. We hope these first few days are going well for each of you.

As we reflect on the broad public discourse of the past months, and turn our attention to the near future, it may feel as if there is a constant public discussion about candidates for the next election – federal, state, or local office. Many of you know that the first official contests of the November 2020 presidential campaign begin in February 2020.  With this background, we share this message with each of you regarding campaign and election activities at Madison College.  

Here is our guidance:

What you do on your own time is largely your business. The college is only concerned with what you do in your capacity as employees and, then, especially during your instructional or work time.

Our Code of Ethics Policy (No. 406) addresses this issue as follows:

Individual college employees may engage in lawful political activities. However, such activity, like any other personal, non-official undertaking, must be done on the employee’s own time, must not interfere with college duties, and must not involve the use of District resources for partisan political activities.

This policy provision is designed to protect, in fact and in appearance, the college’s non-partisan independent tax-exempt status. The policy also reserves college resources for college business and protects against conflicts of interest that may infringe on the ability of college personnel to perform their official duties and responsibilities with our customary effectiveness and objectivity.

You have the right, as a citizen, to engage in political activity so long as such activity does not occur while you are performing your instructional- or work-related responsibilities. You may wear political buttons of reasonable size and number as an expression of your personal political views provided the message does not cause disruption of the educational program or otherwise interfere with your job duties.

Classrooms and classroom time should not be used as a platform for advocacy of a political candidate or point of view. Of course, election information and discussions of related campaign issues may be integrated, where appropriate, into relevant classroom curriculum. Instructional materials and discussions should provide a balanced review of many perspectives on an issue.

Faculty members have a special professional relationship with their students. It is a relationship grounded in trust and respect. It is important that we do no harm to this professional relationship. We should encourage our students to make their own informed choices and vote.

For your reference and review, here is a link to the current policy on Academic Freedom. Elections and political discourse are important to all the citizens of this state and nation. We hope this memo helps you make decisions about work and political activities.

College property, supplies, equipment and systems may not be used in connection with any type of political campaigning. This includes our phones, computers, photocopiers, fax machines and other school equipment.

If you have any questions as to what may be appropriate, please feel free to contact us.

Thank you for your cooperation.




Published September 6, 2019. Updated September 9, 2019.