Although Yale encourages its members to engage in civic activity, including by participating in politics, Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code prohibits tax-exempt organizations such as Yale University itself from participating or intervening in political campaigns on behalf of or in opposition to any candidate for public office. Accordingly, the University may not endorse a candidate, provide or solicit financial or other forms of support for candidates or political organizations, or establish political action committees. The following guidance reflects the applicable federal tax rules.
Individual Involvement in Campaigns.
Yale employees, in their individual capacity, may become involved in political campaigns as long as they do not utilize the University’s financial resources, facilities, or personnel to do so. University officials (including faculty) who engage in political campaigns in their individual capacity must clearly and unambiguously indicate that their actions and statements are their own and not those of the University. They may be identified by their Yale titles or roles only if they make it clear their association with the University is provided only for identification purposes. University officials (including faculty) should not engage in political activity at University functions or through official University publications, and University publications may not state that the University will send members to work on particular political campaigns.
Yale courses may require students to participate in the political campaigns of candidates of their choice, but only if the University (including the faculty member) neither influences the students’ choice of candidates nor controls their campaign work. The University must be reimbursed or paid for any services or facilities that the students use in connection with their campaign work.
Student publications may run editorials expressing the editors’ views on candidates for public office, provided that the publication’s editorial policy is free of editorial control by University administrators or faculty advisors. A statement on the editorial page must indicate that the views expressed are those of the student editors and not those of the University.
Advertising in University Publications.
University publications may accept paid political advertising as long as it is accepted on the same basis as other nonpolitical advertising and not attributed to the University’s own views. The publication should identify the advertisement as paid political advertising and state that the University does not endorse the candidate. The University must make advertising space available to all candidates on an equal basis.
Use of Facilities.
The University may provide its facilities to groups that conduct political campaign activities, but only if it offers the use of those facilities on the same basis to similar groups of any political party and to non-political groups. Subject to University policies on permission and scheduling, established student groups may use University facilities for partisan political purposes, so long as they pay the usual and normal charge, if any, for the use. To the extent that partisan student organizations extend their activities beyond the campus and intervene or participate in campaigns on behalf of candidates for public office, or permit nonmembers of the Yale community to use University facilities or services, proper and appropriate charges must be made and collected for all facilities and services provided. Prolonged partisan use of Yale facilities, even with reimbursement, should be avoided. Partisan student organizations may not solicit funds in the name of the University to be used in off-campus intervention or participation.
The University may make its facilities available for a candidate to appear at no charge or at less than the usual and normal charge only if it is assured that the candidate appearance will consist of speeches, question-and-answer sessions, or similar communications in an academic setting, and will not be conducted as a campaign rally or fund-raising event, and that the format of the presentation will make clear that the University takes no position with regard to the candidate. Tax laws require that the University may not, in conjunction with the appearance, expressly advocate the election or defeat of any candidate or political party, and that it not favor any candidate or political party over any other in allowing such appearances.