Political Activity Do’s and Don’ts for Faculty

We each have the Constitutional right to the freedom of speech and free association, although when exercised in the course of public sector employment, the courts have placed restrictions on our First Amendment free speech rights. As public employees, we have additional Constitutional protections in the workplace that those in the private sector may not enjoy. In-unit faculty are also protected by the provisions in our Collective Bargaining Agreement in regards to our Constitutional rights and the right to due process for disciplinary action (see Articles 27 and 30). Nevertheless, as an employee of a public university in the state of Florida, there are some general guidelines and best practices for engaging in political activity as it relates to your position at UNF. Though the following list is not meant to be comprehensive, it provides some basic do’s and don’ts.

POLITICAL ACTION can be defined as persuading government officials via any medium, such as signing petitions, organizing or participating in demonstrations, distributing fliers, political fund raising, and political outreach.

IT IS OK to volunteer for and engage in political activities on your own time (including legitimate leave time), with your own equipment, and via a non-UNF server.

IT IS OK to discuss politics in and out of the classroom within the educational contexts of learning, research, and teaching your subject.

AVOID volunteering and engaging in political activities while at UNF during regular business hours and even if not in a scheduled activity.

DO NOT use your UNF email account for political action (it becomes public record).

DO NOT use UNF property for political activity including, but not limited to, phones, computers, printers, copiers, university administered websites, official university letterhead, or official university logos.

DO NOT direct students to volunteer or engage in political action as part of their class requirements.

DO NOT engage in political initiatives and mention your institutional affiliation. Instead, give a disclaimer indicating that your actions and statements are your own and not those of the University.

This list is not meant to discourage civic engagement at UNF, an important part of campus life. For more resources on this topic, see below:

http://www.acenet.edu/the-presidency/columns-and-features/Pages/Legal-Watch-Litigation-and-regulation-in-academe.aspx

https://www.aaup.org/academic-freedom-students-and-professors-and-political-discrimination

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