Policy on Partisan Political Activity Hosted by Students and Student Organizations

General Policies

As a tax-exempt organization under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, the College is prohibited from participating or intervening in any political campaign on behalf of or in opposition to any candidate for public office. Political intervention includes financial contributions and the publication or distribution of written or oral statements on behalf of or in opposition to a particular candidate.  There are no exceptions to this prohibition.

When endorsing or opposing a candidate for political office, or taking a position on an issue for the purpose of endorsing or opposing a candidate for political office, individuals and groups within the College community must make it clear that the views expressed are their own and not the views of the College. No one within the College community may use College resources or the College’s name in connection with partisan political campaign activities.

Activities of Student Organizations

Individual students and student organizations are free to engage in partisan political activities so long as their activities are not construed to express the viewpoint of the College.

Use of College Facilities and Resources

Student organizations may sponsor or host a political campaign event or political candidate, provided that the event is conducted in a manner that makes it clear that the views expressed during the event are those of the student organization and not of the College. All such events must be authorized and supervised by the College through the Office of Student Activities and Greek Life. A student organization that hosts a political candidate is not required to invite or otherwise provide an opportunity to speak to all candidates seeking that office. Student organizations may not use the event to conduct political fundraising or a political rally.

Resources with Additional Relevant Information

Gettysburg College’s Freedom of Expression and Civil Discourse Policy should be consulted for information regarding the time, place and manner in which public expression may take place on campus.

Checklist for Student Organizations Hosting a Partisan Political Campaign Event

  1. Costs: College funds should not be used to reimburse the candidate or to provide security for the candidate. Security may be provided by the College for the event and to protect the safety of attendees and the College. College funds may be used by student organizations to advertise the event, to pay for food or other expenses associated with the event. No College funds including Student Senate allocated funds may be used to support fundraising events or activities for political candidates.
  2. Protocols: If an invited speaker or political candidate is being brought in to speak at the event, students must follow the same protocols for all speakers brought to campus by student groups. These protocols are currently under revision, so students should check with the Office of Student Activities and Greek Life to get the most up to date guidelines.
  3. Space Request and Approval: A space on campus must be secured through the College’s Scheduling Coordinator. This request must be submitted by a representative of the student organization listing that group as the sponsor for the event.
  4. Marketing: Publicity materials (whether digital or print) for the event must include the following disclaimer:
    Gettysburg College does not endorse or oppose any candidate or organization in connection with this or any other political campaign or election.
  5. Event Introduction: An explicit statement must be read by either a staff member from the College or a representative of the student organization at the beginning of the event:
    “I have been asked to share the following statement on behalf of Gettysburg College. As part of the College’s educational mission and commitment to a liberal arts education, Gettysburg College is pleased to provide today’s forum for respectful discussion. Gettysburg College does not support or oppose [candidate’s name] or any other political candidate. The opinions or viewpoints of the speaker are the speaker’s own and do not represent a statement of the College’s opinions or viewpoints.  I respectfully remind you that this is an educational opportunity for students and community members.  It is not a political rally and political fundraising at this event is prohibited.”

Approved by Student Life Committee Fall 2017