TAP No. 27: Political Activity 


This policy applies to students, faculty, staff, and visitors.


The purpose of this policy is to facilitate participation in the political process. It establishes guidelines for such activity to ensure compliance with requirements for tax exempt organizations under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.

I. Policy

Duquesne University is dedicated to a broad concept of education, which includes the use of physical facilities for activities that may provide valuable educational experiences, including participation in the political process. Persons within the University are free to exercise their rights as citizens and to be politically active, either individually or through groups and organizations.

The University must, however, fulfill certain requirements set forth, in part, in Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code states that the University qualifies for tax exemption provided that the University "does not participate in, or intervene in (including the publishing and distribution of statements), any political campaign on behalf of any candidate for public office."

Therefore, while certain educational non-partisan political activities are permitted and encouraged, such as voter education and registration, partisan political activities must adhere to the requirements set forth in this Policy. For the purposes of this Policy, partisan political activity is to be read in the sense of advocacy for or against a candidate for public office.

In some instances, certain activities may be subject to rental charges where called for by University room or facility rental regulations.

Final decisions regarding the appropriateness of an activity under this Policy and/or restrictions related to such activity will be determined by the appropriate Vice President.

II. Requirements for Partisan Political Activities

  1. Faculty and staff may participate in partisan political activities provided that participation does not interfere with their regular responsibilities to the University and its students, does not invoke or imply endorsement of or by the University, and does not include the use of University property, funds, supplies, or equipment. Similarly, students may participate in partisan political activities provided that participation does not invoke or imply the endorsement of the University and does not include the use of University property, funds, supplies, or equipment.
  2. When endorsing or opposing a candidate for political office or taking a position on an issue for the purpose of assisting or opposing a candidate, individuals and groups associated with the University shall take special care to make it clear that they are speaking only for themselves and not for the University, and that their endorsement of a candidate or position on an issue shall not in any way be considered as being that of the University.
  3. The University's name, logo, and/or seal shall not be used on stationery or other material for a partisan political purpose, including soliciting funds for supporting a candidate for political office or conducting a political campaign.
  4. Contributions shall not be solicited in the name of, or collected by, the University to support a candidate for political office or conduct a political campaign. University-related organizations or individuals soliciting funds for partisan political purposes must include in such solicitations a statement clearly indicating that such contributions are not made to Duquesne University and are not tax-deductible as such.
  5. The University's bulk-mailing privilege shall not be used for partisan political purposes; nor shall the University's mailing lists be used for such purposes.
  6. University addresses and e-mail, including those of faculty, students, staff, officially recognized student organizations, and/or department offices, shall not be used as mailing addresses for partisan political purposes. Neither the University's inter-office mail system nor e-mail system shall be used for the distribution of partisan political materials.
  7. Campus-based organizations that participate in political campaigns of candidates or that attempt to influence legislation or political issues will be required to pay and/or reimburse proper and appropriate charges for incidental costs that such activities impose on the University, such as reimbursement for telephones or duplicating, in addition to any rental costs for facilities or equipment.
  8. Staff, including office and other employees, shall not be asked to perform tasks related to partisan political activities.
  9. No campus-based organization shall use monies acquired from the University's budget allocation to finance political activities.

III. Requirements for Non-Partisan Political Activities

  1. A. The following non-partisan political activities are generally permissible, subject to approval by the appropriate Vice President:
    1. Educating voters, such as training on the basics of the electoral process and voter registration activities, as long as this activity is 1) conducted in a non-partisan manner, 2) does not target voters of a particular party, 3) provides the same information regardless of the recipient's political views or expressions of support for or against a particular candidate, and 4) is not done in connection with any partisan political campaign event.
    2. Providing a forum for candidate debates, as long as: 1) the debate is open to all candidates for the contested office, 2) debate topics cover a broad range of issues, 3) the questions presented to the candidates are developed or reviewed by an independent, non-partisan group, 4) the moderator's role is limited to ensuring the debate ground rules are followed, 5) the debate begins and ends with a statement that the views presented are those of the candidates alone, 6) no campaign fundraising takes place on University property and/or in connection with the debate, 7) each candidate is given an equal opportunity to present his or her view on each of the issues discussed, and 8) all other University requirements, such as those related to use of University facilities, are met.
    3. Engaging in issue advocacy consistent with the University's mission, as long as 1) it is nonpartisan, 2) does not function as political campaign intervention, 3) does not target a candidate or political party, 4) does not point listeners towards one candidate or another, and 5) does not reference voting in an upcoming election.

IV. Related Information


V. Violations

Violations of this policy will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis and may result in sanctions up to and including termination of employment or expulsion.

VI. History

A. Date of most recent revision: October 2020

VII. Ownership of Policy

Office of the General Counsel

Office of the Provost

Office of the Vice President for Student Life