Summarize relevant laws and policies related to partisan political activity by University employees and students and the use of facilities and other resources for such activities.
All faculty, staff, students, and campus visitors
Election Campaign Finance, General
State Departments: Public Officers and Employees, Civil Service
Use of Campus Grounds and Facilities
University Facilities, Use by External Organizations or Entities
Signs and Posting in Student Housing Facilities
Soliciting in Student Housing Facilities
Kansas Statutes, Board of Regents, University Policies on use of University equipment, facilities, personnel, and other resources for partisan political activity
Kansas Statutes Annotated
Chapter 25. Elections, Article 41.—Election Campaign Finance, General
- Use of public funds, vehicles, machinery, equipment and supplies and time of certain officers and employees to influence nomination or election of candidate prohibited; exceptions; distribution of political materials in public buildings, limitations on; misdemeanor
- No officer or employee of the state of Kansas, or any municipality, shall use or authorize the use of public funds or public vehicles, machinery, equipment or supplies of any such governmental agency or the time of any officer or employee of any such governmental agency, for which the officer or employee is compensated by such governmental agency, to expressly advocate the nomination, election or defeat of a clearly identified candidate to state office or local office. The provisions of this section prohibiting the use of time of any officer or employee for such purposes shall not apply to an incumbent officer campaigning for nomination or reelection to a succeeding term to such office or to members of the personal staff of any elected officer. The provisions of this section shall not apply to the statutory duties of the commission on judicial performance pursuant to article 32 of chapter 20 of the Kansas Statutes Annotated, and amendments thereto.
- The provisions of this subsection shall not apply to the use of internet connectivity provided by the state of Kansas or any municipality to any candidate or elected official.
- Except as otherwise provided in this section, no municipality shall permit or allow any person to distribute, or cause to be distributed, within any building or other structure owned, leased or rented by such municipality any brochure, flier, political fact sheet or other document which expressly advocates the nomination, election or defeat of a clearly identified candidate for state or local office unless each candidate for such state or local office is permitted or allowed to do so in the same manner.
- For the purposes of this subsection, the term municipality shall have the meaning ascribed to it in K.S.A. 12-105a, and amendments thereto.
- Any person violating the provisions of this section shall be guilty of a class C misdemeanor.
Chapter 75. State Departments; Public Officers and Employees, Article 29. Civil Service
75-2953. Use of authority or official influence to compel state officer or employee to apply for or become member of organization, pay or promise to pay assessment or contribution or take part in political activity; penalty for violation; officer or employee in classified service to resign prior to taking oath for state elective office.
- No officer, agent, clerk or employee of this state shall directly or indirectly use their authority or official influence to compel any officer or employee in the unclassified and the classified services to apply for membership in or become a member of any organization, or to pay or promise to pay any assessment, subscription or contribution, or to take part in any political activity. Any person who violates any provisions of this section shall be guilty of a class C misdemeanor, and, upon conviction, shall be punished accordingly. If any officer or employee in the classified service is found guilty of violating any provision of this section, such officer or employee shall be automatically separated from the service.
- Any officer or employee in the state classified service shall resign from the service prior to taking the oath of office for a state elective office.
[Note: K.S.A. 76-715a describes the process for conversion of classified positions in the universities governed by the Kansas Board of Regents to unclassified (University Support Staff) positions. Subsection (b) does not apply to any USS staff of the University of Kansas.]
Board of Regents Policies
Political Activity (Policies and Procedures Manual, II.C.13)
- Faculty, administrators and other unclassified employees, including University Support Staff, may accept any public or political party appointed or elected position that does not create any conflict of interest with, and does not require substantial time away from, assigned duties or in other respects infringe upon those duties.
- The filing of a declaration of intent to become a candidate shall not affect the status or appointment of an unclassified employee, including University Support Staff. However, the employee shall continue to properly and fully perform all of his or her assigned duties or take appropriate leave if available. Should the employee, while he or she is a candidate for office and not on approved leave, fail to perform all of his or her assigned duties, such employee shall be subject to appropriate disciplinary action.
- Leave without salary or other benefits shall be granted to those elected or appointed to public office requiring full time or lengthy sustained periods away from assigned duties, such as Congress, the Kansas Legislature, and state and county offices or appointments to office falling within this category. For persons elected or appointed to Congress or the Kansas Legislature, this provision shall be effective from the date such person takes the Oath of Office or the first day of the Legislative session and continuing until the adjournment of Congress or to a date no sooner than the last adjournment in April or sine die adjournment, whichever occurs first, of each regular and special session of the Kansas Legislature; as to other state and county offices requiring full time or lengthy sustained periods away from assigned duties, this provision shall be effective during the entire time a person serves as such officer. Leave without salary or other benefits shall not be required for any person serving in the Kansas Legislature or for service on any committee during a period when the Legislature is not in regular or special session, provided that such person shall decline to accept all legislative compensation for such service, but such person shall be entitled to mileage and other expense allowances as provided by statute and paid by the Legislature. K.S.A. 2011 Supp. 74-4925(5) provides that any member of the Kansas Legislature who is on leave of absence from the Board of Regents or an educational institution under its management may elect to remain eligible for participation in the Board of Regents’ retirement plan while on such leave.
- In the interest of the fullest participation in public affairs, personnel are free to express opinions speaking or writing as an individual in their personal capacity and not as a representative of the institution in signed advertisements, pamphlets and related material in support of or opposition to parties and causes. There shall be the commensurate responsibility of making plain that each person so doing is acting for himself or herself and not on behalf of an institution supported by tax funds drawn from citizens of varying political and economic views. This responsibility includes avoiding the use of university letterhead and stationery and other official university designations. Employees testifying before the Legislature on behalf of outside entities shall notify their institution’s designated representative prior to such testimony.
Use of Campus Grounds and Facilities (Policies and Procedures Manual, II.E.16)
- State university facilities and grounds shall not be made available for fund raising events for any candidate, party committee or political committee, or for filming or otherwise producing partisan political advertisements.
- Except as prohibited in subsection a., state university facilities may be made available for the purpose of holding political meetings, or public forums, provided there is no interference with regularly scheduled functions, the person requesting the space can clearly demonstrate that there is not otherwise available a reasonably suitable facility in the community, students are permitted to hear the speakers without charge, and payment of the regular fees for use of the facilities is made in advance of such use.University policies regulating availability and use of campus facilities shall be content-neutral and limited to narrowly drawn time, place and manner restrictions that are consistent with established principles of the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.
- The outdoor areas of each state university campus are public forums, open on the same terms to any member of the campus community subject to reasonable time, place, and manner restrictions that are consistent with established principles of the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. Members of the campus community may engage in non-commercial expressive activity in any outdoor area of campus in accordance with published university policies establishing time, place and manner restrictions. University policies regulating availability and use of campus outdoor areas shall be content-neutral and limited to narrowly drawn time, place and manner restrictions that are consistent with established principles of the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.
- Members of the campus community shall be permitted to engage in non-commercial chalking in the outdoor areas of campus, subject to the following restrictions. Universities may prohibit chalking in designated portions of the outdoor areas of campus provided members of the campus community are afforded ample alternative areas to engage in non-commercial chalking. University policies regulating chalking in outdoor areas of campus shall be content-neutral and limited to narrowly drawn time, place and manner restrictions that are consistent with established principles of the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.
- The state universities shall not discourage students, faculty and staff from hearing diverse points of view from speakers and programs sponsored by the university or recognized student, faculty, and employee organizations. University policies or rules on the advance reservation of rooms, the posting of notices, the payment of rental charges when applicable, and such other rules as the university prescribes for the use of its facilities to avoid interference with the regular program of the institution shall be content-neutral and limited to narrowly drawn time, place and manner restrictions that are consistent with established principles of the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.
- Nothing in this policy shall be interpreted as prohibiting a state university from regulating or restricting expressive activity that is not protected by the First Amendment.
- Other than the Governor, elected officials and candidates for elected office shall not be introduced or recognized on campus unless they are in attendance at a campus event in an official capacity and at the request of the university.
- The distribution of handbills shall be prohibited in those areas devoted primarily to instruction and study or at the immediate sites and times of enclosed public events.
- State universities shall have the authority to develop additional policies and guidelines that are not in conflict with this policy and that are consistent with First Amendment precedent. Such policies and guidelines shall be reviewed by the Governance Committee and filed with the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Board.
- For purposes of this policy, the terms “candidate,” “party committee,” and “political committee” shall have the meanings specified in K.S.A. 25-4143, as amended. ‘Campus community’ means students, administrators, faculty and staff at the relevant state university and guests invited to the university by the university’s students, administrators, faculty, or staff. ‘Outdoor areas of campus’ means the generally accessible outside areas of campus where a majority of students, administrators, faculty, and staff at the university are commonly allowed without ticketed entrance.
Campus Mail (originally published in the Handbook for Faculty and Other Unclassified Staff, 1979)
The University maintains a campus mail service intended for official university business. Mail is picked up and delivered to campus offices free of charge on a regular daily schedule. The use of this campus mail service and of its delivery and distribution facilities for personal, business, solicitation, or political purposes is expressly prohibited. Exceptions to this general policy may be granted by the Chancellor or Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor when the exception is deemed to be in the best interests of the University. The campus mail boxes in the various departments and buildings are considered to be under the jurisdiction of the unit in which they are located. Materials may be placed directly by individuals in these campus mail boxes if permission has been obtained from the appropriate person in the unit with jurisdiction over that particular campus mail box.
Incidental personal use of University email may be allowed when such use does not interfere with University operations, does not compromise functioning of the University's network, or interfere with the user's employment or other obligations to the University. KU email cannot be used for: partisan political purposes, such as support of candidates or causes; fundraising; commercial purposes; personal financial gain; or support of outside organizations not authorized to use University facilities. The prohibition against using KU email for partisan political purposes includes, but is not limited to, sending emails announcing fundraising events for candidates, scheduling dates of rallies, planning campaign-related committee meetings, inviting participation in political activities, or communicating personal political views with elected or appointed officials. Private email accounts are to be used for such purposes. Authorization for use in support of external organizations (charities, for example) requires written approval of the Provost or the Provost's designee, and will be granted only when that use is determined to further the University's mission. (For additional information, see the full Electronic Mail policy.)
University vehicles, machinery, equipment, supplies, and time
University vehicles, machinery, equipment, supplies, and time cannot be used for purposes, such as support of political candidates or causes; fundraising; commercial purposes; personal financial gain; or support of outside organizations. For example, University computers, copiers, and fax machines may not be used to produce or transmit political materials. University letterhead may not be used to communicate personal political opinions or to support causes. Employees may not use work time in support of such activities.
University Facilities Use by External Organizations or Entities
Kansas Board of Regents policies govern the use of campus facilities and the conditions under which Regents institutions may offer products or services to the external community. The Regents policy on use of University facilities for political purposes is cited above. The University has developed a more detailed policy on use of University Facilities, including facilities operated by affiliated corporations, including the KU Memorial Unions, Kansas Athletics, Inc., and the KU Center for Research, by external organizations or entities. Individuals and groups wishing to use a University facility for political purposes must complete the Application for Political Use of University Facilities form and submit it to the manager of the facility before the application can be approved.
University policy provides that classroom bulletin boards are reserved solely for instructional materials posted by the faculty who use the rooms. No political, promotional, or commercial materials may be posted on them or on other bulletin boards that are clearly marked for use by university units. Information may not be posted on walls, doors, chairs, utility poles, bus stops, newspaper distribution boxes, vehicle windshields, trash cans, or other surfaces that are not designated for such purposes. Such materials are subject to immediate removal, and the sponsor may be billed for costs related to removal, clean up, or repair. (See the full policy on Posting of Materials and Sidewalk Chalking for further information.)
Signs and posting in Student Housing facilities
Residents are prohibited from posting or distributing materials without approval by the Complex Director or KU Student Housing. Only signage approved by KU Student Housing may be posted in or around KU Student Housing property. (See “Dissemination of Information” section of the Student Housing Handbook.)
Soliciting in Student Housing facilities
Solicitation is prohibited; this includes distribution of flyers and door-to-door canvassing without permission. Residents are requested to notify complex/hall staff of unauthorized solicitation. (See the “Dissemination of Information” section of Student Housing Handbook.)
Use of University Name and Marks
The name of the University and the University’s marks may never be used as an endorsement of any candidate, party, or political committee.
05/16/2022: Updated to align with KBOR’s Statement on Free Expression.
11/04/2021: Updated contact section.
09/16/2020: Updated to reflect current Kansas Statues and Board of Regents policy.
09/09/2020: Updated Political Activities Memorandum.
07/16/2020: Updated link.
02/22/2017: Fixed broken links to Kansas Board of Regents Policy Manual.
08/24/2016: Fixed the broken link to the Boards of Regents Policy on Political Activity section II.C.13.
08/28/2015: Revised Political Activity and Use of Campus Facilities sections to mirror changes made by the Kansas Board of Regents. The changes to Political Activity include the addition of details regarding a) support staff, b) expectation to fulfill duties, c) benefits, and d) speaking on personal behalf. The changes to Use of Campus Facilities include the addition of details regarding a) filming, b) public forums, c) recognition of the governor, d) distribution of handbills, e) content formerly described in d, and f) points to the source of relevant definitions.
04/02/2015: Fixed broken links to Board of Regents Policy Manual.
12/17/2014: Fixed broken links to Board of Regents Policy Manual.
11/07/2014: Updated Board of Regents links.
10/30/2014: Fixed broken anchor link to University Facilities, Use by External Organizations or Entities.
09/23/2014: Fixed broken links to Board of Regents policies and Policy Library documents, updated formatting to fix spacing issues and enhance link display. Updated Contents to add jump-down links for easier navigation throughout the page.
09/25/2002: Policy approved by Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor, in consultation with Office of the General Counsel