Yale University is committed to the free expression of ideas by members of the University community, including expression of political views; and to the freedom of students and faculty to engage in scholarship related to political life and discourse. The Woodward Report reinforces these commitments, and reminds us that within the diversity of the Yale community there coexist many points of view. In response to alumni, faculty and staff inquiries regarding how they may engage in activism and advocacy on current issues within the context of their Yale affiliation, this statement directs community members to relevant University policies and guidelines. Questions that remain after referencing the relevant information may be directed to the Office of the Vice President and General Counsel.
While the University encourages its community members to participate in the political process, federal law prohibits tax-exempt educational institutions from participating in campaigns on behalf of, or in opposition to, any candidate for public office. Members of the Yale community must therefore take care to ensure that their individual campaign activities are not viewed as conducted by or on behalf of Yale. Guidelines for assuring that individual activity is not attributed to the University are available here: http://ogc.yale.edu/ogc/political-campaign-activity. If an activity is promoted as being in support of or in opposition to any candidate’s campaign for public office, including a sitting public official who has declared their candidacy for a public office, the guidelines apply even if the election is significantly in the future.
Federal law also limits the amount of lobbying in which the University engages. Lobbying is defined as any attempt to influence legislators or the general public to take a position on specific legislation proposed or expected to be proposed by Congress, any state legislature, any local council, or similar legislative body, or by the public in a referendum, ballot initiative, constitutional amendment, or similar procedure. Yale community members who engage in lobbying must therefore take care to ensure that their activities are not viewed as conducted by or on behalf of Yale. Information on the limits, reporting requirements, and processes for obtaining University support for University lobbying activities is available here: http://ofr.yale.edu/primer-lobbying-and-lobbying-disclosure. Those wishing to engage in lobbying activity that could be attributed to Yale should first discuss the proposed activity with the Office of Federal Relations or the Office of New Haven and State Affairs.
Yale Community Member Identification
Individual members or groups of individual members of the Yale community may wish to state their affiliation with the University when engaging in activism or advocacy. When a Yale affiliation is stated, care must be taken to assure that such statement is solely for the purpose of personal identification and does not create the impression of University support or endorsement of the individual’s or group’s position or activity.
Use of University Resources
In order to maintain the distinction between individual and University actions, Yale letterhead, listservs, websites, servers and other technology may not be used for individual engagement in political activism or advocacy. Information on the appropriate use of University technology is available here: https://your.yale.edu/policies-procedures/policies/1607-information-technology-appropriate-use-policy. Use of University facilities must comply with the policies of the school or department that manages them. Information on access to and use of Yale facilities may be found on the website specific to the school or department.