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Office of the General Counsel

Political Activities on Campus

Frequently Asked Questions

These FAQs provide general guidelines for employees and students of UNF who wish to engage in an important but regulated activity: political campaign involvement. These FAQs are not intended as a source of definitive legal advice on the specific situations discussed below nor are they a comprehensive legal manual that addresses all political activity. To the extent you are a supervisor and have questions about regulating employee speech, please contact the Office of the General Counsel at

In addition to the general guidance below, certain university employees holding highly visible positions, or those who serve in a liaison capacity with state and federal legislators, should be aware of the ethical and practical consequences of political campaign involvement as well as the basic legal issues, such as the application of state and federal lobbying rules to the activities of state university employees.

If you have a specific question regarding political campaign issues, please the Office of General Counsel at

  • What is political campaign activity?

    Political campaign activity can include, among other things, solicitation of campaign contributions, service in furtherance of candidates, political parties and political action committees, and advocating a particular position on a referendum. Further, there should be awareness that comments regarding the specific actions, positions, or records of a candidate may be perceived as support or endorsement by the institution of a candidate or political party.

    There are other political activities that might not fall within the scope of political campaign activities as discussed in this guidance. For example, advocating for governmental action or legislative change at a local, state or federal level may be political although not related to a political campaign. While this guidance does not cover those activities in detail, because of restrictions on state lobbying and personal use of state resources, individual employees should not use state work time or state resources to engage in political activities unless expressly designated with this responsibility on behalf of UNF.

  • As a UNF employee, are there restrictions on my political campaign activities?

    Yes. As a UNF employee, your political campaign activities are restricted by UNF policy and state law in three significant ways:

    1. You may not engage in political campaign activities during your work time;
    2. You may not use state resources to engage in political campaign activities at any time; and
    3. You may not solicit contributions or services for a political purpose from other university employees while they are engaged in their official duties.

    State resources include but are not limited to:

    • institutional letterhead and logos;
    • office space and other facilities;
    • office supplies;
    • photocopiers;
    • telephones or facsimile machines;
    • electronic resources including email, websites, on-line discussion; and
    • boards or other similar resources.

    As a private citizen, you are free to engage in political activities on your own time and with your own resources.

  • Is my UNF e-mail considered a state resource?

    Yes. UNF assigned e-mail accounts are considered a state resource. As such, your UNF e-mail may not be used for political campaign activities or lobbying for or against political positions. Further, while there is no official UNF policy prohibiting it, the Office of the General Counsel recommends against using your UNF e-mail account for any non-UNF business purposes. Keeping business and personal communications separate will help all UNF employees avoid potentially running afoul of any of the prohibitions on use of state resources.

    A student's Ospreys E-mail account is considered the student's own personal e-mail and is not subject to the prohibitions on the use of state resources.

  • As a UNF employee, may I host a political fundraiser off-campus (at my home, for example)?

    Yes. This is permissible if you do so on your own time and do not use state resources in connection with this event. However, you may not promote the fundraiser or engage in fundraising activities on state time.

  • As a UNF employee, may I use a university conference facility or meeting room for political campaign activities?

    No. As a UNF employee, you may not use your university position to secure an on-campus conference or meeting room, discounted rental rates or priority treatment for the purpose of political campaign activities. However, a person who happens to be a UNF employee will not be prohibited from renting university facilities in their capacity as a private citizen under the same criteria as outside organizations, such as rentals on a first-come, first-served basis and non-discounted rental fees.

  • As a UNF employee, may I make contributions to a political campaign?

    Yes, but only outside of work hours and university facilities. All UNF employees, including legislative liaisons and other employees who attempt to influence legislation, may contribute to and participate in political campaigns at any time during the election cycle. Pursuant to state campaign finance laws, however, campaign contributions cannot be solicited or collected on state time, in state office buildings or through use of any other state resource.

  • May I permit an organization to list my name and employment title as a supporter in its political campaign literature - for example, in a letter to a newspaper, a brochure or a fundraiser invitation?

    Yes. Care should be taken, however, about using your official title to promote one candidate, campaign or party over another. Generally speaking, you should seek to clarify that the use of your name indicates neither support nor endorsement by UNF of a particular candidate and that you are acting solely in your role as a private citizen.

  • May I support a candidate by wearing political identification or buttons on campus? May I demonstrate my support for a candidate in my office or classroom by displaying stickers, slogans or signs in those places?

    Generally, no. It is a violation of state law for UNF employees to engage in political campaign activities while at work. Consistent with this principle, UNF employees are prohibited from wearing political identification while on duty where it could impair the effectiveness of the state agency operation.

    Similar concerns are addressed in the workplace display of partisan political signs. Florida law provides that no person may erect, post or attach any signs, posters, pictures or any similar item in or on a university building, except as authorized under institutional policies.

    The display of bumper stickers on privately-owned vehicles parked in UNF parking facilities, however, does not raise concerns about improper or illegal political campaign activities. Further, the prohibition on political material at the workplace does not include “I voted” stickers.

  • As a UNF student or university-recognized student organization (“RSO”), may I organize a political event to be hosted on campus?

    Yes. Political events may be sponsored by Recognized Student Organizations (RSOs). In fact, institutions and student groups are particularly encouraged to arrange non-partisan events such as campus tours for legislators and candidates, as well as to sponsor forums in which political figures or candidates may debate one another. Political events hosted by RSO’s should be open to all members of the UNF community.

    RSO’s or other UNF funded political event may not be used for campaigning purposes or otherwise support political campaigns.

    RSO’s wishing to organize such events should contact the appropriate facilities administrator to ensure compliance with UNF policies on use of university facilities before event planning has begun.

  • Can student organizations utilize student fees or university resources to contribute to a political campaign?

    No. In accordance with UNF policies and consistent with Florida law, student organizations may not use student fees to make direct gifts, contributions, or donations of any kind.

  • May student fees be used to fund the printing of posters, political advertisements, or t-shirts indicating our group's support of a candidate or political party?

    As discussed above, student organizations may not use student fees in a manner which would constitute making a direct gift, contribution, or donation of any kind. Accordingly, if the funding of these materials constitutes a gift, contribution or donation to a candidate or party, it would not be permitted. Student organizations may, however, use student fees to support their own expressive activities and views on public policy issues and other interests.

    Questions about appropriate uses of student fees should be referred to appropriate student affairs officers and/or legal counsel in the Office of General Counsel.

  • Can student organizations urge students to vote? What about voting for a particular party or for a particular candidate?

    Yes. Student organizations are encouraged to help educate and inform students about upcoming elections, including urging students to exercise their right to vote. Student organizations are also free to express their views about the parties and candidates, and to urge voting for particular parties or candidates, and–as noted above–to sponsor events for candidates so long as they comply with rules governing the use of university facilities and resources.

  • As a UNF student, may I display a partisan political sign in my residence hall room?

    Yes, so long as you comply with university and residence hall policies, including the UNF Housing and Residence Life Student Handbook, governing the posting of signs in dormitory rooms, and any other applicable time, place and manner restrictions, such activity would be permissible.

  • What types of educational events may the campus engage in to encourage voter education and participation?

    The campus may host non-partisan events to encourage voter education and participation, such as candidate forums and voter registration efforts. These activities must be non-partisan for the sole purpose of voter education. If candidates are invited on campus, all legally qualified candidates must be invited and given an equal opportunity to speak and participate. Permissible activities include speeches, question-and-answer sessions, debates, or similar activities. A statement should be given that the university does not endorse nor oppose any of the candidates.

    Electronic resources may also be used for non-partisan voter education purposes. For example, a university web page with current election information may include a link to candidates’ websites if the web page includes all legally qualified candidates and excludes any commentary in support or against a candidate, express or implied. Again, a statement should be included that the university does not endorse nor oppose any of the candidates. If discussion space is provided, the university should include a disclaimer that the opinions expressed on the discussion board do not represent those of the university.

    Websites used for voter education purposes should be regularly monitored to ensure that they are not modified for the purposes of advocating for a particular candidate or political party.

  • Is it important that UNF sponsored political events offer opportunities to all candidates seeking election to the same political office?

    Yes. A balanced approach is required. For example, all campaigns of candidates seeking election to the same political office should be offered the same or a similar opportunity to participate in a university-sponsored event. However, if when offered the opportunity, one or more candidates decline, it is still appropriate to host the event for those who have accepted the invitation. During the event a statement should be made indicating that all candidates were provided with an equal opportunity to participate.

    It should be noted, however, that the above would not apply to candidates who speak to a class at the invitation of an instructor so long as the candidate’s talk relates to the course material and is not for the purpose of advancing a particular candidate, campaign or political party over another.

  • May individuals or candidates distribute campaign literature on campus?

    Yes. Campaigning is permitted in public areas at UNF, subject to UNF policies concerning expression in outdoor areas of campus and distribution of printed material. Distribution of political literature and campaigning may not be conducted inside UNF buildings, with the exception of classroom space which is subject to the discretion of the instructor.

  • Do candidates and political organizations have access to mailing lists of faculty, students and staff?

    Yes, to the extent that this information is generally available to the public. Candidates and political organizations do not get special access to contact information for students, faculty and staff. Public records laws as well as student confidentiality laws such as FERPA would govern whether a candidate or political organization could access a mailing list.

  • Can UNF facilities be rented for political events?

    Yes, UNF licenses space in certain facilities on campus to non-UNF users for various activities, which include social events, commercial events, meetings, seminars, ceremonies, and the like.

    UNF will enter into contracts for the use of portions of the University Center, and Performing Arts Center, the Stadium, Arena, Student Union/Coxwell Amphitheater, parking lots, and tennis courts/recreational facilities, as well as the Robinson Theater and UNF Field House. Other UNF space, such as classrooms, dining halls, library, residence halls during their occupancy by students, and the Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation are not available for outside groups to use.

    The Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) in downtown Jacksonville (which is a cultural institute of UNF) also makes portions of its facility available for use by non-UNF groups based on its own fixed schedule of rates.

    Space is licensed to users based on a fixed schedule of rates that applies to every non-UNF user on an equal basis based on the size, location, and services to be provided. Space is made available on a first-come, first served basis.

  • What purposes can groups rent space on campus?

    UNF's contract with the user for use of the particular facility specifies the exact use of the space that is permitted by the user. Facilities have specific policies that prohibit certain uses based on particular risks to health and safety, un-insurability, illegality, inability to pay, discrimination prohibited by law or UNF regulation, merchandise sales, and size of event, and that limit certain high-risk behaviors as permitted by law.

  • Can UNF discriminate against facilities’ users based on their particular identity or viewpoint?

    No. Each of the facilities available for rent operates under UNF and is located on State-owned land. UNF does not prohibit use of a facility or discriminate based upon the user’s identity or its political, social, or religious viewpoint. Additionally, UNF does not discriminate in licensing space to a user on the basis of the user’s race, national origin, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or marriage or veteran’s status.

    Similarly, UNF will not endorse a user’s particular political, social, or religious viewpoint and contractually prohibits the use of UNF’s name or registered trademarks in a way that suggests UNF’s endorsement of the user or its viewpoints.

  • May UNF prohibit the use of its facilities for any reason?

    UNF cannot prohibit use of its available facilities to certain groups based on their viewpoint. However, UNF has the authority to control its facilities’ use if done so in a lawful manner. During hurricanes, natural disasters, pandemic, widespread civil unrest or other emergency situations, UNF may choose to limit and/or re-purpose some or all its rental facilities based on a particular health, safety or other legitimate need.

  • Does UNF require users to employ security personnel when they are using a facility?

    In some cases. UNF must approve every user’s security plan. The individual facilities determine if, when, and what level of security should be required. The facilities coordinate with the University Police Department in cases in which an enhanced risk to campus safety or good order is anticipated.