Election Guidelines

October 1, 2020

Dear students, staff and faculty,

As we approach election day on November 3, I write with the hope that members of the campus community will exercise their right to vote. In California, the deadline to register for the election is Monday, October 19, so please register early!  For out of state students, please check your registration status and register here. 

I also write to remind our campus community of the University's policy on political campaign activities. Departments, student organizations and individual members of the campus community may be contacted by campaigns or other third-party organizations who work on behalf of campaigns seeking to reach voters. As faculty and staff of the University, you are obligated to engage in political activity for those candidates and ballot proposition positions you believe in during non-working hours only.

UC policy prohibits the use of university resources, staffing or funding for campaign activities that might reasonably be viewed as partisan or political in nature. Examples of university resources that should not be used include, but are not limited to, the use of:

  • University email or telephones, including University issued cell phones 

  • Letterhead or other university-printed materials 

  • University-linked social media and/or websites

  • University issued Zoom accounts 

  • Facilities (due to COVID-19 restrictions, no facilities may be used for campaigning even if appropriate facility use fees are paid).

Use of these university resources could constitute a policy violation or a violation of applicable laws, and the best practice is therefore not to use them for political campaigning at all.

Student organizations may sponsor political events as long as university resources are not used and the events are conducted remotely in accordance with current pandemic restrictions on in-person events. University institutes, centers, colleges and departments cannot sponsor such events. Improper use of university resources may result in disciplinary actions.

Additionally, it is not permissible to use one's university title in printed materials in support of a candidate or ballot initiative. UC has developed guidelines along with FAQ’s that are intended to assist in drawing the distinction between legitimate informational activities and unlawful campaign activities.

Finally, I would like to highlight a section of the UCOP guidelines relating to academic activities: “It is important to draw a distinction between prohibited political activities on the one hand, and instruction and research on politically related subjects on the other. Certainly, scholarly instruction and research on politics is not only appropriate but desirable. Furthermore, it is important to reaffirm that the prohibition on political activity does not restrict individual members of the University community from exercising all political rights afforded to them as members of society. The University encourages members of the UC community to exercise their right to participate in the political process in their personal capacity. However, individuals should take care to ensure that their personal activities in connection with supporting or opposing particular candidates for public office or ballot measures are not done using University time, do not make use of University resources (including facilities and equipment) and cannot reasonably be interpreted as official statements of the University.”

Here is additional guidance from the UCOP Office of General Counsel. If you have questions, or are not sure about restrictions on political activities within the workplace, please contact the Office of Government and Community Relations at gcr@berkeley.edu or the Office of Legal Affairs (510) 642-7791. 

Carol Christ

This message was sent to all UC Berkeley students, staff and faculty.