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UNM Policy Office

MSC05 3357
1 University of New Mexico
Albuquerque, NM 87131

Physical Location:
Scholes Hall
114 A and B

Phone: (505) 277-6531

University of New Mexico Seal

Administrative Policies and Procedures Manual - Policy 2060: Political Activity

Date Originally Issued: 10-26-1994
Revised: 05-15-2015, 03-08-2016

Authorized by RPM 6.5 ("Political Activity by Employees")

Process Owner: Director of Governmental Affairs

1. General

The University recognizes and approves the right of free speech and expression of opinion on any subject by any member of the University community, whether the subject relates to on- or off-campus issues.  Those who speak or act shall do so in their personal capacities and not in the name of the University, unless there has been specific authorization by the administration to do so.  

In order to assure its autonomy and integrity, the University shall not be an instrument of partisan political action.  The expression of political opinions and viewpoints must clearly be those of the individual and not of the University. 

This policy applies to faculty, staff, and students and addresses the appropriate use of space and resources for political activity on all of the University’s campuses. 

2. Definitions

For the purposes of this policy, "political activity" includes, without limitation, political campaigning, candidate speeches and visits, circulating petitions, distributing leaflets, canvassing for political candidates and issues, soliciting funds, and events such as rallies, assemblies, demonstrations, and speeches. 

The definition of political activity is not intended to include the posting of political signs in employees’ private offices or cubicles.  For certain limitations on the posting of signs, refer to the fifth paragraph of Sec. 4.

Examples of University “resources” include, but are not limited to:

  • the University’s name, logo, or other identifying marks
  • funds, facilities, office supplies, photo equipment, letterhead, mailing lists, telephones, fax machines, copiers, and computers
  • information technology such as email, websites, on-line discussion boards, and listservs

3. Voter Education

The University must avoid advocating for any issue and endorsing or opposing a candidate for public office, ballot initiative, or other public referendum. Without advocating for or against an issue, the University may provide educational information on general obligation bonds, severance taxes, or other University-sanctioned priorities.  The educational materials must be non-partisan.  As an example, a pamphlet encouraging voters to vote in a general obligation bond election is acceptable, but telling voters to vote “yes” for the bond issue is not.

4. Limitations on Political Activities by Employees

When engaged in political activities, individuals and groups within the University may acknowledge their UNM affiliations, but must clearly explain that they are speaking only for themselves and not stating a University position.  This is particularly important for University leaders and others who in their official capacity frequently speak for the University.

Employees may not engage in political activities during work hours, or, except as noted below, use University resources for engaging in political activities. 

Outside of work hours, employees may use their University email accounts for engaging in political activities consistent with the concept of “incidental personal use” in UAP 2500 (“Acceptable Computer Use”).  However, any communication disseminated through University email that could be construed as relating to political activity must include a clear statement that such communication represents the personal position of the author.

The University must remain non-partisan and may not endorse a candidate or a political referendum. Accordingly, employees must not post a hyperlink on a University administered website to a candidate or campaign site.  Moreover, if the University believes that a posting on a University administered website creates the impression that the University has endorsed a candidate or a particular side of a public referendum, it may require that a disclaimer be posted on the site stating that the opinions expressed are attributed to the author and do not represent the views of the University.

No outward-facing political signs may be posted on the windows of private offices or cubicles, and no political signs may be posted on the exteriors of University buildings or on University grounds. 

Campaign or other political material may not be distributed through campus mail unless it has been received by a federal post office and is properly postmarked.

4.1. Serving as a Legislator

University employees may run for the state legislature. However, under New Mexico law, University employees who are elected to the state legislature would be required to resign their positions with the University, or, if approved, take a leave of absence for the duration of their terms in the legislature.

5. Polling Places

When a University facility is used as a polling place, state law prohibits campaigning within one hundred (100) feet of the door to the polling area during the hours that voting takes place, or as required by the entity conducting the election.  A decision about whether to use the University as a polling place is made by the governmental authority holding the election, not the University.

6. Commercial Filming of Events

Requests for commercial filming or photographing of the University for political activities should be submitted to University Communication and Marketing (UCAM) by completing the Guidelines and Application for Film or Commercial Photography.

7. Use of University Space for Political Activities 

As a public institution, the University respects the rights of political candidates, their representatives, and others to conduct political events on campus.  Groups or individuals may rent facilities for speeches, debates, assemblies, and other events.  Indoor facilities will be scheduled through normal procedures with the appropriate University office that oversees that facility. The standard facility-use fee for the specific facility will be charged.  

When a candidate is invited to speak as a political candidate at an official University event, the University must ensure that:

  • It provides an equal opportunity to participate to all political candidates seeking the same office;
  • It does not include any support for or opposition to the candidate (this should be stated explicitly when the candidate is introduced and in communications concerning the candidate’s attendance); and
  • No political fundraising occurs.

For assistance with political events on campus, contact these UNM offices:

  • Police Department to arrange for police and security services
  • Parking and Transportation Services to arrange for adequate parking
  • Office of Government and Community Relations and the Event Planning and Scheduling Office for general assistance

Public areas outside of University buildings may be used for political activities provided the normal business of the University is not disrupted and entrances to and exits from buildings are not blocked or impeded.  Outside areas for political events (such as rallies or speeches) will be scheduled through normal procedures through the Student Activities Center.  Events on Main Campus should be conducted in accordance with the Main Campus Rules for Outdoor Events, Sound, and Posting.

Distributing literature, canvassing, obtaining petition signatures, and similar activities, which generally are allowed outside University buildings, need not be scheduled.  

Within the South Campus athletics complex, concern for traffic safety and extreme pedestrian congestion requires special regulations. Political activities that involve fundraising, signing petitions, individual discussions with patrons, or other activities that slow pedestrian traffic are not permitted on the sidewalks immediately adjacent to the WisePies Arena (a/k/a the Pit) or the University Stadium. Political activities of this nature are permitted on the public sidewalks adjoining Cesar Chavez and University Boulevards.

Due to concern for congestion and interference with University activities, political activity is not permitted inside of University buildings, except for scheduled events where facilities have been rented.

8.      References

UAP 2050 (“Governmental Relations and Legislative Activity”)

UAP 2500 (“Acceptable Computer Use”)

UAP 3415 (“Leave With Pay”)

Faculty Handbook Policy C150 (“Political Activities of UNM Faculty”)

Main Campus Rules for Outdoor Events, Sound, and Posting

Guidelines and Application for Film or Commercial Photography

NMSA 1978, §§ 2-1-3 and 2-1-4 (“Compensation as state officer or employee other than that received as a legislator prohibited”)

NMSA 1978, §§ 10-16-3.1 (“Prohibited Political Activities”)