Because there will be a number of political campaigns at the national and state level in 2014, it is important to review IIT’s policy on political activity as well as its policy on the use of space for partisan purposes during the campaign season.
As a tax-exempt entity, IIT is prohibited from directly or indirectly participating or intervening in any campaign on behalf of or in opposition to any candidate for elective office, and IIT has an obligation to refrain from engaging in any partisan political activity. Violation of these prohibitions against such activities could jeopardize the university’s tax-exempt status.
While individuals are free to express their opinions and to support political candidates on their own, it must be clear that the individual is acting on his or her own behalf and not on behalf of IIT. No one should identify himself or herself as an employee of IIT when supporting a candidate. If, when speaking or writing on behalf of a candidate someone is identified as an IIT faculty member or other employee, that individual should indicate prior to any speech or as part of any writing that the comments are personal and not intended to represent the views of IIT. Further, no individual or event may use the name, symbols or resources of the university in any way in connection with any political campaign on behalf of or in opposition to any candidate for political office.
Specific examples of impermissible activities include, but are not limited to (i) using university letterhead, campus mail, telephones or email accounts to solicit support or contributions for a candidate; (ii) using university funds to purchase tickets for a candidate’s fund-raiser; and (iii) putting campaign posters on university property.
Further, until after the general election in November 2014, no political candidate or campaign may use or rent any IIT facilities on any of its campuses. Subject to certain conditions and restrictions, political candidates may be invited to speak at events hosted by the university or a unit of the university. However, no invitation for such an event should be extended without the extending party first discussing the proposed activity with the General Counsel¹s Office to ensure that it complies with applicable laws.
Certain voter education activities, including voter registration and get-out-the-vote drives, are permissible but only if they are undertaken in accordance with applicable rules and regulations and are conducted in a non-partisan manner. Again, before any such activities are undertaken, the initiating party should contact the General Counsel’s Office.
Any questions about this policy should be directed to Anthony D. D’Amato, General Counsel, at 312.567.8821.