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Political Activity

Type of Policy: UFHR – ER
Effective Date:
Last Revised: January 1, 2019

Purpose

The purpose of this policy is to provide guidance for faculty and staff engaged in political activities or running for public office.

Scope

This policy applies to all University of Florida employees.

Policy Statement

The University of Florida encourages all UF employees to be informed, active, and engaged citizens, and to participate fully in the political life of the community. However, UF employees may not participate in any political campaign or provide anything of value to support or oppose a candidate for public office during work hours or while performing UF activities.

Employees may not to use UF facilities (unless appropriately rented or leased through Business Affairs) or UF e-mail, logos, or other university resources for political campaigning or political activities.

Procedures

Political Participation

University employees have the important right to freely participate in political campaigns in their personal capacity at times that do not interfere with their work responsibilities. Provided the employee is off-duty, they may engage in political activities such as registration and voting, expression of opinions (either oral or written), voluntary financial contributions of personal funds to political candidates or organizations, circulation of nonpartisan petitions or petitions stating vies on legislation, attendance at political rallies, display of political materials in the employee’s home or on employee’s property.

UF employees may not be discriminated against for their political beliefs or affiliation. However, while performing UF activities, during UF work time, or while using UF assets or resources (unless UF space is appropriately rented from Business Affairs and used outside of work hours), University employees may not:

  • Participate in political activities or solicit participation of others in political activities;
  • Use their positions or offices to influence or interfere with an election;
  • Distribute political materials;
  • Share or project endorsements or opposition of candidates or political issues;
  • Solicit political donations.

UF employees who wish to assist or contribute to a campaign may do so on their personal time, but may not do so on University time. There is not a need for those individuals to complete an outside activities form unless they assume an official role in a campaign or are, themselves, running for office. If an employee wishes to assist a campaign during what would normally be their normal working hours, they must request, and have approved, the use of vacation time per normal departmental processes.

Certain areas of the campus, such as the Plaza of the Americas, are open for public speech, including political speech. Speech activities in these areas are encouraged, and may be conducted within UF’s reasonable regulations that ensure activities do not interfere with University work and do not create unsafe conditions or violations of law.

When making public statements, speaking with the media, or using social media, UF employees are encouraged to be clear they are expressing personal opinions–and not speaking in their official roles or on behalf of the University, especially when engaging in political speech or political activities.

Running for Office

UF employees wishing to run for public office must do the following:

  • Complete an Outside Activities Form, approved by their unit Dean, Director or VP;
  • Refrain from using any UF resources, including email and UF websites, for campaigning;
  • Refrain from engaging in any campaign activities during work hour
  • Assure all campaign activities are conducted during off-work hours or by using pre-approved vacation leave
  • Consult with their own advisors or legal counsel for legal and ethical obligations required of them as individuals. UF attorney cannot advise employees on their campaign related activities.

Reporting Questions or Violations

The following is the department, office, or individual is responsible for overseeing implementation of and assuring compliance with this policy. Any individual with questions about the policy should contact:

UFHR – Employee Relations
903 W. University Avenue
P.O. Box 115000
Gainesville, FL 32611
Phone: (352) 392-1072
Email: EmployeeRelations@hr.ufl.edu (to expedite a response, please include the phrase “Political Activity” in the subject line of any email inquiries or reports)

Enforcement

Failure to comply with this policy could result in disciplinary action, up to and including termination.


Resources

UF Reg. 1.006 Non-Discrimination/Harassment/Invasion of Privacy Policies

UF Reg. 1.008 University of Florida; Disruptive Behavior

UF Reg. 7.018 Academic Affairs; Academic Freedom and Responsibility

Acceptable Use Policy

Florida Statue 11.062 Use of state funds for lobbying prohibited: penalty

Definitions

As used herein, ‘political activities’ means activities related to elections, campaigns for or against candidates, issues, amendments, or levies. Political activities do not include educational and academic research activities about candidates and issues.

Related Information

Policy History

Revision Date Author Description
01-01-2019 UFHR – Employee Relations General policy update and adoption of UF HR policy template