Elections for president, Congress and state legislatures across the United States will be held eight weeks from Tuesday, and as campaigns intensify this fall I want to share the university’s political activity policy with everyone at St. Thomas.
I also want to encourage everyone to respect the rights of individuals to display campaign lawn signs in our St. Paul campus neighborhood. Signs have been stolen or damaged in the past, and recently we received reports that several lawn signs have been stolen this fall. There is no conclusive proof who took them.
As a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, St. Thomas is prohibited by the Internal Revenue Service from participating or intervening in any political campaign activities on behalf of, or in opposition to, any candidate for public office.
We are permitted to conduct certain voter education activities, including public forums and debates, but those events may not show a preference for or against a candidate. St. Thomas is prohibited from endorsing candidates, making campaign contributions, engaging in fundraising for candidates and making statements favoring or opposing candidates.
Members of the St. Thomas community are entitled to take positions on candidates or issues as long as such advocacy is in an individual capacity and does not make use of St. Thomas resources. You also must indicate that your comments are personal and not intended to represent the views of the university.
St. Thomas generally allows political signs in personal offices and residence hall rooms as long as they are in good taste and are not offensive. Signs may not be placed in common areas, on the outside of buildings or on the grounds, and signs on office or classroom windows cannot face out. These restrictions are in order to avoid any suggestion that the university is endorsing a candidate.
Candidates can make appearances on campus and must call the Dean of Students office 24 hours before arrival to make arrangements. Candidates can distribute campaign literature and walk through the Anderson Student Center and the lower quadrangle to meet people, but are discouraged from going into academic buildings and the libraries. The designated location to meet residence hall students is the lobby of Koch Commons, and candidates must contact Residence Life a week before a visit date in order to walk the hallways of residence halls.
Student media may publish editorials that oppose or endorse specific legislation or candidates for political office, and must state that the views reflected are those of the student editors and not of St. Thomas.
Students can read more about the elections, campus educational programs focused on voting, and how to vote at Tommies Vote, a special Student Affairs website.