Separation of Personal and Institutional Political Advocacy

 

Date:           January 11, 2023

To:               Provost’s Council
                    Department Chairs
                    Jon Perkins, President, Faculty Senate
                    Caroline Hayes, Chair, Department Chair’s Cabinet
                    Jamie Sass, President, Professional and Scientific Council

From:          Jonathan Wickert                                             
                    Senior Vice President and Provost            

Subject:      Separation of personal and institutional political advocacy

 

As we prepare for the 2023 Iowa legislative session, I am writing to again remind you of Iowa State’s policies regarding political advocacy and prohibition of using university resources for political purposes.

Political activity includes both personal and institutional advocacy. Advocacy efforts on behalf of the institution must be approved through the Office of the President, and subsequently through the Regents’ Governmental Relations Office. Keep in mind the President’s office, in coordination with the Board of Regents, determines Iowa State’s legislative priorities and presents that information to individual legislators.

As citizens, all Iowa State University 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 and administrative leaders – should not imply their personal views represent those of the university. If there is any question or ambiguity as to whether an employee is speaking (or writing) individually, or on behalf of Iowa State, the employee should clarify they are speaking (or writing) only for themselves as a private citizen.

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

Another area for consideration is the use of classroom time for political discussions or activity. Please take care to ensure that any discussions are germane and appropriate to the curriculum of a course and avoid activities that may be perceived as partisan in nature without providing similar opportunities for members of the campus community with other viewpoints.

As always, let me know if you have any questions. Inquiries regarding state legislative matters should be directed to Carolann Jensen, State Relations Officer, at 515-250-2585 or cjensen3@iastate.edu. Inquiries regarding federal legislative matters may also be directed to Sophia Magill, Senior Advisor to the President, at 4-2320 or smagill@iastate.edu. Questions regarding employee political activity may be directed to Michael Norton, University General Counsel, at 4-5352 or mnorton@iastate.edu.

I ask that you communicate this policy to your reporting units and departments.