Political activities

Purpose

The purpose of this Political Activities Policy (“Policy”) is to comply with IRS regulations which prohibit participation in Political Activities and to protect Lynn University from imposition of excise tax, penalties, or revocation of tax exempt status.

Policy

Lynn University supports open dialogue on political issues. Lynn University reserves the right to support or oppose issues that affect its values, welfare, the University itself, and/or values and welfare of higher education. Lynn University encourages its faculty, staff, trustees, students, and recognized campus organizations to participate actively in political activities on an individual basis. The policies of Lynn University do not restrict the rights and privileges of faculty, staff, trustees, students, and recognized campus organizations to express their opinions freely. Lynn University is committed to preserving and encouraging a diversity of point of view and political opinion.

Lynn University is a tax-exempt institution, qualified by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501(c)(3) corporation. It is essential that the University protect its tax-exempt status, as it exempts the University from the payment of real property and sales taxes and it qualifies contributions from alumni and friends as charitable deductions. As a tax-exempt institution, Political Activities on any Lynn University campus or facility must be conducted in a neutral and nonpartisan manner, and in furtherance of the University's legitimate exempt function (education). Accordingly, the University as an entity and members of the University community individually are not permitted to use University resources in the pursuit of political objectives and Political Activities.

Definitions

Political Activity/Political Activities—activity, including oral or written statements and financial support, that is directed toward the success or failure of a political party, candidate for election in a partisan political campaign for public office, a partisan political group or ballot initiative.

Political Campaign—a race between candidates for elective office, or other organized effort towards a particular election result, including for ballot initiatives.

Endorse—public statements of opinion and/or contributions, monetary, in-kind, or otherwise, to political campaigns.

Procedures / Guidelines

To preserve the integrity of Lynn University and to protect the neutrality of the University in political contests, the following guidelines shall apply.

Lynn University Political Activity Policy

1. In order to preserve not for profit (IRS Section 501(c)(3)) status, the law requires that Lynn University not participate in or intervene in any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for public office.

2. Lynn University shall not endorse any candidate for political office.

3. All address lists used by the University are considered confidential and shall not be shared with candidates or parties.

4. Campus organizations may use campus communications to announce political forums and discussions sponsored by officially constituted campus groups.

5. No campus political activities, including services and materials, may be paid for with Lynn University funds.

6. Use of Lynn University properties is subject to the University’s Policy Regarding Facility Use by Candidates for Political Office (see below).

7. Funds or contributions for political candidates or campaigns may not under any circumstances be solicited in the name of Lynn University or on any University facility, and Lynn University resources may not be used in soliciting such funds. If Lynn University students, faculty, or staff make political contributions, they must do so as individuals and not on behalf of the University.

8. Lynn University communications systems, including any postal service, phone system, or computer network, shall not be used in support of one particular candidate.

9. Lynn University students are free to express their individual and collective political views provided they understand and make clear they are not speaking for or in the name of Lynn University. Endorsement of a particular candidate by a registered student group is not permissible.

10. Lynn University’s name, logo, and insignia may not appear on stationery or any other material used or intended for support of a particular candidate. This prohibition also applies to any Lynn University entities supported in whole or part by Lynn University funds, such as registered student organizations.

Policy Regarding Facility Use by Candidates for Political Office.1

In service to its local community, its students and its employees, Lynn University may offer declared candidates for local, regional, state and national office the opportunity to utilize its facilities during a campaign to engage and educate supporters, opponents and undecided voters, including the campus community. However, such events must conform to the requirements stated below.

1. The appearance of a candidate for public office on the Lynn University campus must be for an educational or informational talk to the University community and must be sponsored by a registered student, faculty, or staff organization. Appearances must be coordinated with Lynn University, who will ensure that opportunities to appear on campus are extended to all viable candidates running for a particular public office. The moderator shall make it clear that the institution does not support or oppose the candidate appearing.

2. All events held on the Lynn University campus featuring candidates for public office shall be open to the general University community. An "open" event is defined as one for which no fewer than one-half the available seats or spaces are available to the general University community based on a non-biased distribution of tickets (such as first-come, first-served).

3. The University shall consider all requests for facility use by campaigns to be rental requests. Though the University may waive all regular rental fees for approved campaign appearances, a candidate/campaign will be responsible for any costs related to their proposed events (including staging, security, catering, etc.). "Approved campaign appearances" will be those that are classified as open meetings.

4. Lynn University buildings and grounds shall not be rented or used for political fund raising. For example, a meeting on campus with an organizer for a specific candidate that is focused on recruiting campaign workers from the student population would be a violation of these guidelines. On the other hand, a Lynn University graduate now working for a particular candidate speaking on campus to a group of students about what it has been like to be in the political arena, and what the candidate’s particular experience has been, would be allowable.

5. Requests for facility use shall be denied if:

a. A suitable facility is unavailable at the time/date requested;

b. The appearance is determined to be disruptive, given its time, topic or projected headcount, to the University’s educational mission;

c. The candidate appearing commonly espouses views or beliefs that would, were he/she a student, violate the University’s employee or student codes of conduct (such as "hate speech").

Candidates, their campaigns or sponsoring Lynn student organizations, shall file any rental or space requests with the Office of Auxiliary Services. Formal requests shall be answered within two business days of receipt.

1 Lynn University's "Policy Regarding Facility Use by candidates for Political Office" was adapted, with appreciation, from similar guidelines prepared and distributed by Rochester Institute of Technology (Rochester, NY) and Allegheny College (Meadville, PA.).

To learn more about this policy or the supporting procedures, please contact Finance.

Policy updated on: Oct. 24, 2018