St. Cloud State University Policies & Procedures

Political Activity Link☍

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Current Status: Approved

Policy Type: All University

Effective Date: 09/20/2016

Last Updated: 04/21/2021

Applies To: Students, Faculty, Staff, Visitors

Responsible University Officer: President

Policy Owner: President

Policy Contact: Special Advisor to the President

Rationale

It is the mission of St. Cloud State University to prepare our students for life and citizenship, and thus, open and vigorous discussion of political ideas, while maintaining the University’s neutrality on candidates and ballot issues.

Policy

St. Cloud State University must maintain partisan and political viewpoint neutrality in all University related activities. While faculty, staff, and students may hold individual partisan views, they may not claim, suggest, or imply, by word, action, or location of political activity, that the University supports, endorses, or lends its name to a candidate, political party, or ballot initiative.

Sponsorship of Political Speakers

Registered student organizations and/or a University group (office, program, center, school, college, department, etc.) may sponsor and schedule political events on campus that are primarily for students, faculty, and staff and for educational purposes. Unions or bargaining units are not University groups for the purposes of this policy. The same policies, procedures, and processes apply for the use of space that would normally apply to registered student organizations and University groups. The invited candidate or political speaker may be affiliated with a specific political party, however, the following apply:

  • The sponsoring organization or University group must ensure that it is clear that the event is in no way an endorsement from the University or university administration, including in all event announcements, marketing materials, or other publicity.
  • All event announcements, marketing materials, or other publicity should clearly and prominently identify the name of the sponsoring organization or University group.
  • The sponsoring student organization or University group must fully understand and comply with all University political solicitation and dissemination policy requirements.

Equal opportunity shall be provided such that no candidate or political speaker is denied access based on political affiliation or viewpoint. A neutral introduction of the speaker(s) by a University representative does not constitute an endorsement of the speaker(s), their political affiliation, or their message.

Sponsorship of Open Forum Speakers

When holding a political open forum at St. Cloud State University, it is imperative that all legally qualified candidates or delegated representatives are invited to participate. Sponsoring organizations or groups must keep documentation of invitation attempts and declined invitations. A forum may still be held even if a candidate or candidates decline. 

Non-Sponsored Event Scheduling and Use of Outdoor Space

Candidates or other political speakers not specifically invited by University group shall be treated as other members of the public when using University spaces. Minnesota statutes and SCSU policies, procedures, and processes apply, including but not limited to those about use of outdoor spaces, display and distribution of information, and facilities rentals.  All candidates or other political speakers must be given equitable opportunity and access, however, it is generally permissible to apply reasonable time, place, and manner rules.  

Political Expression by Employees

Employees are permitted to post political speech within their cubicle or office area, provided it is not in an area of public access or readily visible to the public. Employees sharing workspace should be respectful of the sensitivities of their co-workers with regard to any political speech that may be posted. Buttons or pins containing a partisan message may be worn unless your work area regulates insignia that may be worn on a uniform. Buttons or pins containing a partisan message may not be worn by St. Cloud State University employees when meeting with the public during the course of their work responsibilities.

Employee Political Use of University Equipment or Resources

St. Cloud State University equipment and resources may be used:

  • for incidental personal use which may include communication with elected
  • to notify the campus community about University sponsored events that are political in nature so long as there is clear messaging about the University’s neutrality.
  • to encourage individuals, in a non-partisan way, to vote.
  • to announce resources to assist individuals to vote, such as location to voting sites or transportation options to get to a voting location.

St. Cloud State University equipment and resources must not be used:

  • to conduct candidate related political activities including but not limited to fundraising, advertising of non-University sponsored political events, or seeking volunteers for political campaign work.
  • to link to political websites or materials.
  • to provide incentive of any kind for voter registration or partisan affiliation.
  • to distribute political speeches, campaign materials, ballot initiatives, or other partisan political messaging including to/with University listservs.
  • to conduct any activity prohibited by Minnesota State Board Procedure 5.22.1, Acceptable Use of Computers and Information Technology Resources (See Supporting URLs).

Residence Halls

Political candidates and campaign workers must be allowed access to campaign in student housing subject to the policies of SCSU Residential Life. Such restrictions include exclusion from particular rooms or apartments, requiring identification, limiting the number of people and hours of visit, and requiring prior appointments.

Student Elections

St. Cloud State University student election candidates’ posters and banners will be posted in the Atwood Memorial Center and on the University campus in full compliance with Student Government Association election rules and the University’s Display and Distribution of Information policy and procedure.

Campaigning, Elections, and Voting

SCSU is subject to the policies of Minnesota State and Minnesota statutes relative to campaigning, elections, political activity and voting. It is important for students, faculty, and staff to understand these policies and laws.

Primary, Election and Caucus Days Scheduling Restrictions

On general election and primary days, including city and county elections; colleges and universities are prohibited from scheduling events, other than regularly scheduled classes, between 6:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. Classes regularly scheduled during those hours may be held as usual. On caucus days no events, including classes, can be scheduled after 6:00 p.m.

St. Cloud State University is not prohibited from allowing an outside group or person (e.g., local scout troop) to schedule use of campus facilities during these hours, so long as staffing is available.

If a political party precinct caucus scheduled for one date is moved to another date the same restrictions apply, so long as the Secretary of State has announced the new caucus date. St. Cloud State University must make its facilities available for major political party precinct caucuses, legislative district conventions, and county conventions on the same basis that facilities are rented to others. Charges may not exceed the lowest amount charged to any public or private group.


Primary or Election Day Polling Location Prohibitions

Minnesota Statute 211B.11 provides clear guidance about prohibitions on the day of a primary or election. A violation of this statute is a petty misdemeanor. All SCSU students, faculty and staff are encouraged to read the entire statute since SCSU is a public place that may be used as a polling location. Following are key elements from the statute:

  • The prohibitions of the statute apply within a polling place, within 100 feet of the polling place, or anywhere on public property on which a polling place is situated.
  • Campaign materials, signs, political badges, buttons, or insignia (except for the “I VOTED” sticker) may not be posted, displayed, provided, disseminated, or worn on primary or election day.
  • No person shall ask, solicit, or in any manner try to induce or persuade a voter about their vote on primary or election day, including those persons who are transporting a voter to a polling place

Frequently Asked Questions

These are the answers to the most frequently asked questions:

Can I use my university email to contact or communicate with Political candidates and officers?

State employees and students can make incidental use of university e-mail to communicate with politicians.

Can I show my support for a political candidate by wearing buttons or pins?

Except on a primary or election day when SCSU is a polling location, employees may wear buttons or pins unless they are prohibited from doing so by a uniform or dress code policy specific to their work unit.  It is appropriate to be respectful of co-workers who may have different views.  Employees who greet the public as part of their work for SCSU who are seen as representing the university partisan political views should not be shared. 

Can I post signs or show my support of political candidates or parties?

Except on a primary or election day when SCSU is a polling location, employees may post signs of a political nature, including political speech, outside of public view or public access, but should always be mindful and respectful of co-workers when doing so.

Can I run for Public Office?

Employees may seek public office but not campaign during work time, in state uniform or on state premises.

Can I encourage others to vote, donate to political candidates, or support candidates or ballot measures?

Supervisors may not attempt to persuade co-workers to vote, donate money or support a particular candidate or ballot measure.

I cannot get to the polling station because of my schedule work hours; how can I vote?

Employees must be allowed to take time off to vote in state and primary elections.

I'm entitled to attend a party caucus, but the schedule conflicts with my work hours?

State law allows employees who are entitled to attend a major political party caucus, and who provide the employer at least ten days' written notice, to be absent from work for the purpose of attending the caucus during the time for which the caucus is scheduled. The employer may not impose a "penalty or deduction from salary or wages on account of the absence other than a deduction in salary for the time of absence from employment." (Minn. Stat. 202A.19 Subd. 2.)

Where can I find information about election/precinct dates?

Please refer to the website of the Office of General Counsel at Minnesota State Colleges and Universities. 

Keywords

Polling, political party, polling locations, precinct caucus, political candidates, Legislative districts, General elections, political activities, primary elections, solicit, public office, student organizations, student election, Prohibitions, University representatives, Minnesota Statute , Neutrality, political event

Related St. Cloud State University Policies

Supporting URLs

Websites, Related External Documents, Statutes

Definitions

Assembly

A group or gathering of individuals whether organized or spontaneous.

Disruptive Activity

Obstruction, disruption, or interference with classes, research, events, ceremonies, speakers, performances, meeting rooms, administrative functions, or other university activities.

Events

Activities that include, but are not limited to, official meetings, practices, competitions or trips involving students, registered student organizations, or intercollegiate athletic teams.

Sponsor

The St. Cloud State University employee responsible for coordinating or being in charge of the volunteer program, project, or event.

University Property

All land, buildings, facilities, parking lots and other property in the possession of, owned, rented, leased, maintained, or controlled by St. Cloud State University. The term Campus may be used interchangeably with University Property. 

Contacts

Responsible University Officer
   Wacker, Robbyn R.
   President
 
rrwacker@stcloudstate.edu
320-308-2122
Owner
   Wacker, Robbyn R.
   President
 
rrwacker@stcloudstate.edu
320-308-2122
Contact
   Siminoe, Judith P.
   Special Advisor to the President
 
jpsiminoe@stcloudstate.edu
320-308-2124

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