SU's Policy on Political Campaign Activities

Posted: September 27, 2023

Dear Faculty, Staff, and Students:

As we approach the upcoming elections occurring this fall, I write to remind you about the University’s Policy on Political Campaign Activities. This Policy is designed to ensure compliance with the Internal Revenue Service’s (“IRS”) regulatory prohibition on 501(c)(3) organizations’ use of resources in connection with political campaign activities.

Under the Policy and IRS regulations, the University and its personnel are prohibited from using University resources on behalf of, or in opposition to, any candidate for public office or any ballot initiative. Therefore, University faculty, staff, Trustees, and volunteers may not use University resources (including University facilities) to, for example: send e-mails from their University e-mail addresses that campaign for or against a candidate or ballot initiative; host a candidate’s election event at the University; or use a University copy machine to copy or print materials supporting or opposing a ballot initiative or candidate. The foregoing is a non-exhaustive list of the types of uses of University resources that are prohibited under the Policy and IRS regulations.

The Policy and IRS regulations do not prohibit faculty and staff from engaging in political activities during their personal time and with their own personal resources. Similarly, the Policy does not prohibit the University from hosting individuals who hold or seek elective office for a debate or a public forum, provided that the event does not favor or endorse a particular candidate and complies with the IRS’s test for

determining whether the debate or forum is permitted. This test can be found in the Policy at pages 2 to 3.

Questions? The Policy cannot address every potential situation that may implicate the IRS’s prohibition on political campaign activities, so if you have any questions about permitted and prohibited political activities, please contact the Office of the University Counsel at (206) 296-2043. Your cooperation is both necessary and appreciated.


Mary S. Petersen
Vice President and University Counsel