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Campus Political Activities Policy

09/30/2016

As the California election season continues, it is worth drawing attention to a campus policy of timely interest.

Caltech, as a non-profit institution, is subject to federal laws that impose restrictions, and even prohibitions, on certain political activities by Caltech and the use of Caltech resources in connection with political activity.   As the general election approaches, it is timely to remind the Caltech Community that the Institute has a Political & Campaign Activities Policy, posted at http://governmentrelations.caltech.edu/federal/politicalactivities, which provides guidance on what is and is not permitted in order to keep Caltech in compliance with legal requirements.

In summary, the applicable laws dictate that no person may engage in any political activity in support of or opposition to any candidate for elective public office on behalf of Caltech or use any Caltech resources for such a purpose.

While all members of the Caltech community are free to express political opinions and engage in political activities, it is important that they do so only in their individual capacities and avoid even the appearance that they are speaking or acting for Caltech in political matters.

Accordingly, any and all political activity in support of or opposition to any candidate for elective public office (including giving or receiving funds or endorsements) directly or indirectly using the Caltech name is prohibited. Use of Caltech resources for such purposes is also prohibited.  Prohibited activities include:

  1. Reimbursing employees for campaign contributions;
  2. Providing Caltech services, facilities, equipment or support for political purposes (Support includes such things as mailing lists, office space, photocopying, interdepartmental mail, electronic mail, duplicating machines, computers and facsimile machines);
  3. Using Caltech office addresses or e-mail addresses as a return mailing address for political mailings;
  4. Using Caltech telephones for political campaign purposes. However, campus residential telephone services may be used for these purposes.
  5. Using Caltech letterhead or the Caltech seal in support of a candidate or political party.
  6. Providing hyperlinks to web pages of candidates on Institute web pages.
  7. Official remarks at an Institute meeting by an Institute official in support of a candidate, political party etc.

We do permit incidental personal use of email and other resources and this policy does not prohibit such use.  So, for example, you are not prohibited from emailing several friends that you plan on attending a campaign event. If, however, you are acting on behalf of a campaign or actively campaigning for a candidate (for example doing mass e-mails), you should refrain from using Caltech resources.

Permissible Political Activities

As noted above, this policy in no way inhibits the expression of personal political views by any individual in the Caltech community.  Nor are faculty, students and staff prohibited in any way from joining with others in support of candidates for office or in furtherance of political causes.  There is no restriction on discussion of political issues or teaching of political techniques.  Academic endeavors which address public policy issues are in no way affected.

If you are planning on engaging in political activity, please review the Caltech policy so you are familiar with the rules governing Caltech.  If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact the Director for Government Relations at extension 6256 or by email at hdaily@caltech.edu.