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Engagement in Political Activity by UC Employees

September 30, 2020
Elizabeth Romero and David Bergquist
September 30, 2020

Dear Colleagues:
 
The November 3, 2020 election will be here before we know it. University of California faculty, staff and students will join millions of Americans across the country and fulfill their civic duty by casting their ballot for various federal, state and local offices, and for or against a wide range of propositions. We encourage all of you to participate in the electoral process. For more information on your voter status or to register to vote, visit the California Secretary of State’s website: Election 2020.
 
We also want to remind the campus community that there are legal restrictions on University of California involvement in political campaign activities based on the status of the University as a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization and as a state entity. The University may not endorse/oppose (or contribute to) political candidates, nor may University resources (including University-paid time or equipment) be used for campaign purposes in connection with ballot propositions.
 
We want to emphasize that the University does not restrict any member of the University community — student, academic appointee, staff employee — from exercising their right to engage in personal political activity. However, no member of the University community may use University facilities or resources (including time on the job, UC email, Zoom account, etc.) for political purposes, except as specifically permitted by University regulations. We encourage you to review the University guidelines regarding the restrictions that apply to University of California participation in ballot initiative campaigns that are posted at the following link: Legal guidelines for UC participation in ballot campaigns.
 
Please remember that while you are free in your private individual capacity to endorse any political candidate or either side of a ballot initiative, you must avoid any improper inference of University endorsement of a particular position. A University employee may use their University title for identification purposes but should include a disclaimer of University endorsement if the context might reasonably cause confusion as to whether a political endorsement is made in an official or unofficial capacity. Please be aware that even though the Regents as an institution has endorsed two measures on the ballot in California in the upcoming 2020 election (namely Proposition 14, the “Stem Cell Research Institute Bond Initiative”, and Proposition 16, the “Repeal Proposition 209 Affirmative Action Amendment”), the same restrictions still apply to UC employees in their individual capacity with respect to that measure. 
 
Again, the limitations discussed here in no way constitute prohibitions on the right to express political views by any individual in the University community. Members of the University community are encouraged to participate in the political process, including supporting candidates and taking positions on ballot measures using their personal resources on their own time.
 
If you have any questions or need additional information, please feel free to contact either or both of us. Our contact information is below.
 
Sincerely,
 
Elizabeth Romero                                                                      David Bergquist
Assistant Vice Chancellor                                                         Chief Campus Counsel
Governmental & Community Relations                                     951.827.2228
951.827.2750                                                                            david.bergquist@ucr.edu
Elizabeth.Romero@ucr.edu