Policy Number: 4-007

Political Campaigning on Campus

Category: Business Affairs

Responsible Executive: Vice President for Business Affairs

1.  Policy Statement

This Policy on Political Campaigning on Campus (“Policy”) describes the limitations the University must place on political activities to ensure compliance with applicable law. 

As discussed in its Freedom of Expression Statement, the University of Florida (“University”) is committed to the principles of free expression, including the exchange of political viewpoints and ideas for everyone. 

The University encourages individuals to fully exercise their personal rights of citizenship, such as voting, supporting a candidate of their choice, and donating to politicians they support. Federal law, however, restricts the University from engaging in activities which may directly or indirectly benefit or negatively impact candidates for political office. These restrictions extend to University employees and other representatives when they are acting on behalf of the University in their official capacities.

2.  Applicability

Each individual and every group or organization holding a Political Event on Campus is required to abide by this Policy. Thus, this Policy applies to individuals and groups who are external to the University, as well as those who are associated with the University.

This Policy is also subject to Regulation 2.004, the Use of University Space Policy, and all other applicable University regulations, policies, procedures, rules, requirements, and standards promulgated in order to implement that regulation and its related Use of University Space policy, including but not limited to those pertaining to commercial activity. Nothing contained within this policy is meant to or should be construed to contradict any applicable federal, state or local laws or regulations.

3.  Definitions

Campus: all University-owned, -occupied, or -controlled lands and buildings located within the state of Florida. 

Event: means without limitation, any function, gathering, occasion, and party. This definition specifically excludes activities conducted by Primary Users for Academic Purposes or Administrative Purposes not requiring a risk review. For clarification of the risk review requirement see Use of University Space Policy section 4.1(a).

Event Permitting System: is the system used by the Vice President for Student Life and the Vice President for Business Affairs for registering and permitting Events on Campus (this system is also known as GatorConnect).

General Registered Student Organizations (“GRSOs”): are Registered Student Organizations that are independent third parties, with no legal affiliation to the University and any of its entities.

Political Campaign: the promotional efforts of any individuals running for a national, regional, state, or local political office.

Political Candidate: any individual who: has announced publicly their intention to be a candidate for election to any public office; is being promoted publicly to join a race and become an official candidate; or is representing a candidate in an official capacity. Incumbent public officials are not considered Political Candidates until they have either publicly announced an intention to run for reelection for their current position or to be a candidate for another public office.

Political Event: (a) any partisan event intended to promote a particular political party, belief, idea or Political Candidate, including, without limitation, campaign rallies or other events at which a Political Candidate or Political Campaign speaks or is prominently featured and (b) any non-partisan event intended to discuss political beliefs, ideas or candidates, such as debates or town halls.

Primary User: refers to the following types of Users: 

•    Any University-recognized and officially constituted college, school, department, division, institute, center, office, or other University organizational unit;
•    Any University employee when performing functions within the scope of their employment;
•    Any University student engaged in activities directly related to their current course curricula, such as studying (individually or with a group of individuals all of whom are University students) and working on course-related projects or experiments.
•    Any University-certified direct support organization organized and operated in accordance with Section 1004.28, Florida Statutes, and their employees when performing functions within the scope of their employment;
•    Shands Teaching Hospital and Clinics, Inc. and any University Health Science Center Affiliate, and their respective employees when performing functions within the scope of their employment; and
•    Any Registered Student Organization when utilizing Space solely to conduct activities related to the Registered Student Organization’s stated mission or purpose.

Registered Student Organization (“RSO”): a voluntary group of students joined together by interest, cause or mission that is registered with the Department of Student Activities and Involvement (“SAI”).

Select Space: Indoor and outdoor Space that is eligible for reservation and use by both Primary Users and Select Users, a current list of which is available at https://businessaffairs.ufl.edu/events/select-space/. This definition specifically excludes Instructional Space, Administrative Space, and Primary Outdoor Areas unless otherwise identified on such list.

Select User: any individual, group, or organization not meeting the definition of Primary User.

University Host: includes the following groups:

•    Any University-recognized and officially constituted college, school, department, division, institute, center, office, or other University organizational unit;
•    Any University employee when performing functions within the scope of their employment;
•    Any University-certified Direct Support Organization organized and operated in accordance with Section 1004.28, Florida Statutes, and their employees when performing functions within the scope of their employment; and
•    University Sponsored Student Organization as that term is used in the University’s Registered Student Organization Classification policy.

University Hosted Political Events: Political Events hosted by a University Host.

University Sponsored Student Organization (“USSOs”): an RSO with a mission and purpose so intertwined with the University or a University unit that it is an extension of the University serving the University’s mission.

University Resources: any University property or service, such as facilities or space, office equipment, email, postage, vehicles, University name, logo and other University trademarks, letterhead, and technology resources, including, without limitation, its websites, social media, and online discussion boards.

4.  Policy Specifics

4.1 Exclusions

University employees’ participation in the political process is only limited when they are acting in their official capacity concerning the University; therefore, this Policy does not apply to the rights of University employees when they are engaging in political activities on their personal time, unless such activities take place on Campus. 

University resources for University employees who want to learn more about their rights and responsibilities concerning political activities, include the following:

Unless otherwise stated, this Policy applies only to elections for national, regional, state, and local positions; it does not apply to University elections, including elections for positions held by students (e.g. Student Government and Inter-Residence Hall Association).

This Policy does not apply to the Alachua County Supervisor of Elections’ use of certain Campus facilities as polling centers during any scheduled or special election cycle. Under such circumstances, all aspects of the polling centers, including the placement of candidate signs in areas surrounding such polling centers, shall be governed by the Supervisor of Elections and Florida law. The University may impose additional restrictions on the number and location of signs Political Candidates are permitted to place on the Campus.

4.2 General Requirements

To uphold its commitment to free expression and political discourse, and to comply with applicable law, the University has developed the following general requirements:

Neither the University nor anyone acting in their official capacity on its behalf shall directly or indirectly, participate in any Political Campaign on behalf of, or in opposition to, any Political Candidate.

Examples of prohibited activities include, without limitation, the following:

•    Soliciting or making contributions to political funds;
•    Endorsing or opposing any Political Candidate for public office or any Political Candidate’s official platforms; and
•    Allowing a Political Candidate to use University’s Resources without allowing equal access to such resources to all other Political Candidates for the same position.

Examples of permitted activities include, without limitation, the following:

•    Hosting non-partisan voter education and registration activities;
•    Hosting non-partisan political forums and debates; and
•    Allowing for non-partisan courses, coursework, and curricular activities of the University.

University employees questioning whether a proposed activity is permitted may contact the Office of Government & Community Relations at gcr@ufl.edu for guidance and assistance.

4.3 Educational Presentations by Candidates for Non-Political Purposes

When Political Candidates are invited to the University to offer educational presentations about a topic completely unrelated to their candidacy the presentation is not considered a Political Event.

All of the Political Candidate’s educational presentation must be delivered as non-partisan and remain educational in nature; at no point can the presentation turn to the Political Candidate’s candidacy. Further, any communications or promotional activities concerning the Political Candidate’s presentation shall only indicate the educational capacity in which the Political Candidate is appearing and shall exclude all mention of the Political Candidate’s candidacy or the election. 

4.4  University Facilities and Outdoor Space for Political Events

University facilities and outdoor space are regularly used by a wide array of individuals; therefore, the University has established regulations and policies governing such use. Any Political Events taking place on Campus must comply with all Business Affairs policies related to the Use of University Space (found here) as well as any additional rules provided in this Policy.

The University may, in its sole discretion, create and enforce reasonable and content-neutral restrictions on the time, place or manner for any event or activity on the Campus. These include, without limitation, moving the proposed Political Event to a more appropriate Campus location, moving the proposed Political Event to an alternate event date or time, and/or restricting the attendance or capacity of the proposed Political Event.

Unless otherwise permitted within this Policy, the use of temporary signage and other marketing on Campus is only permissible for Primary Users as discussed in the University’s Temporary Signage policy.

4.5  Political Events held by University Hosts (“University-Hosted Political Events”)

University-Hosted Political Events must be non-partisan and politically neutral so that no candidate receives or appears to receive any preferential treatment from, or endorsement by, the University.

Permissible forms of non-partisan and neutral University-Hosted Political Events include, without limitation, candidate forums or debates, question-and-answer sessions, or similar forms of political discourse.

Neither the University nor any of its employees or official representatives can host any political fundraising activities or campaign rallies.  To promote neutrality among Political Candidates at University-Hosted Political Events, University Hosts must take the following precautions:

•    Political Candidates must not receive any compensation, honorarium, or expenses (either directly or to anyone else on their behalf) for their participation in University-Hosted Political Events;
•    Either all Political Candidates running for the same public office shall be invited to a Political Event or all such candidates shall be invited to attend substantially similar events (e.g. if there are too many candidates running for political office to accommodate during one debate, the University may schedule a series of similarly planned and executed debates to which all the candidates can be invited); and
•    All Political Candidates attending a University-Hosted Political Event must also be invited to attend any associated University-Hosted receptions and other social activities.
•    Restrictions imposed upon any Political Candidates which might appear to give an advantage to any of the Political Candidates’ opponents must be reviewed and approved by the Vice President of Government and Community Relations (gcr@ufl.edu). Restrictions will only be approved when imposed in a neutral, non-partisan manner that do not benefit or harm any specific candidate or group of candidates.

When University-Hosted Political Events are held on Campus, the following guidelines apply:

•    The University Host must pay all facility charges and ancillary service costs associated with the event, including. but not limited to, custodial, parking, equipment setup and operation, and security;
•    Neither the University Host nor any University facility or venue may charge any individual an admission fee to attend a University-Hosted Political Event;
•    All promotional material for University-Hosted Political Events must include a clear statement that the University, the University Host, and the University officials involved in the event do not endorse any political candidate or any position of a political candidate; and
•    University officials may publicize any University-Hosted Political Events in any appropriate manner and may encourage or arrange for coverage by media organizations, including University media.

4.6  Political Events hosted by GRSOs

Student Government is responsible for creating rules that govern GRSOs use of student activity and service fees. GRSOs are not considered part of the University and are not agents or representatives of the University. GRSOs are permitted to use student activities fees to support their own expressive activities and viewpoints as long as the student activities fee expenditures are in accordance with Student Government rules. GRSOs may host partisan events for individual Political Candidates provided it complies with all applicable Student Activities and Involvement and Student Government funding regulations, rules, policies, and procedures (including University permitting requirements), governing events organized by GRSOs.

The hosting GRSO shall be responsible for all charges, costs, and fees it would normally incur if holding another event of similar size and scope within the same University facility.

Promotional materials for any Political Event organized by a GRSO must not state or imply that the University endorses a Political Candidate, political party or any political position of any Political Candidate.

The University’s name, trademarks, or logos shall not be used to promote any Political Event organized by a GRSO or used in any way to suggest the Political Event is endorsed, hosted, or sponsored by the University.

GRSOs wishing to host a Political Event must submit a permit for the Political Event through the Student Life Event Permitting System (https://orgs.studentinvolvement.ufl.edu/) and obtain approval for the Political Event from the designee of the Vice President for Student Life, as described in the Event and Permit Request Process section of the University’s Use of University Space policy. Please allow at least 15 business days for review of a submitted permit. 

Registered Student Organizations (which include USSOs and GRSOs) may host tabling events on campus in accordance with the Tabling Events policy.

4.7  Political Events hosted by Individuals and Groups Unaffiliated with the University

The University has designated space on Campus, referred to as Select Space, available to Select Users when not in use for official University business (see the discussion of Select Space in the University’s Use of University Space policy). Any Select Users, including Political Candidates, using such space for any reason, including Political Events, must comply with all regulations, policies, terms, and conditions regarding the third-party use of University space.

The Select User is responsible for paying the full facility use fees and any applicable ancillary service costs (including, but not limited to, security, custodial, parking, audio-visual equipment set-up and operation) associated with the Political Event.

The facility use fee and ancillary service costs must be paid as prescribed by the University facility or space where the Political Event is held.

The University’s name, trademarks, or logos may only be used by Select Users to identify the location of the Political Event; University marks cannot be used in any way to suggest the Political Event is endorsed, hosted, or sponsored by the University.  Any proposed marketing efforts to promote a Political Event must be submitted for pre-approval to the Office of the Vice President for Business Affairs at ufba-events@ufl.edu. Please allow at least 15 business days for review of proposed marketing material or ideas.

4.8  Political Events hosted by Individual Students and Groups of Students who are not an RSO

Students, when acting in their individual capacities and not as University representatives, are free to engage in the political process including donating to and volunteering for political campaigns and expressing their views on political matters provided their actions comply with University rules and regulations.

The University also encourages its students to educate and inform their fellow students about the political process, including urging students to exercise their right to vote.

The political actions of University students are not and shall not be attributable to the University.

4.9  Political Events and Activities Within University Housing & Residence Life

In addition to complying with all applicable elements of this Policy and other University regulations and policies, Political Events occurring within University Housing must also comply with all rules, policies and procedures established by the University’s Housing & Residence Life (“HRL”) and by the Student Conduct Code.

HRL’s policies are available within its Community Standards, published annually and available by searching HRL’s webpage at: https://housing.ufl.edu/.

The residential nature of University Housing limits the types of political and other activities that may take place there. For example, Political Campaigning involving personal interactions (such as unsolicited door-to-door communication and direct distribution of partisan political information) is prohibited within the residence halls because unsolicited door-to-door communication, in general, is prohibited within University Housing.

Additional restrictions and exclusions may be placed upon people who do not reside in the University Housing facility.

Anyone who has questions about whether they can host a Political Event or engage in political activity in or around HRL facilities should contact HREConduct@ufsa.ufl.edu.

4.10 Miscellaneous Political Activities

a. Voter Registration: Voter registration drives are permitted if the drive is conducted lawfully and in a non-partisan manner.

b. Distribution of Printed Material: Distribution of printed political materials is permitted by individuals and groups provided they follow all applicable University regulations and policies, including UF Regulation 2.003, which specifically addresses the Distribution of Printed Material.

Printed material for distribution may not state or imply that the University endorses any Political Candidate, political party or political platform.

4.10.1 Manned Distribution of Printed Political Materials

The following practices are prohibited:

•    Distributing printed materials inside any building or facility on the University’s campus, including any athletic or recreational facility;
•    Leaving printed materials unattended;
•    Utilizing amplified sound louder than 75 decibels while distributing such materials;
•    Setting up structures such as tents or tables on the outdoor space where materials are being distributed (e.g. tables, tents, et cetera);
•    Distributing food, beverages, and promotional items of any type while distributing such materials, without prior written approval from the Office of the Vice President for Business Affairs; and
•    Engaging in any fundraising activities such as the collection of funds or donations, in any amount, while distributing such materials.

4.10.2 Unmanned Distribution of Printed Political Materials within Modular Units

a. The University has established a process through which printed material can be placed in specifically designated Modular Units for unmanned distribution of such materials.

b. Individuals and groups wishing to distribute their printed materials in one of the University’s Modular Units must apply for a license to do so through the University’s Business Services at web@bsd.ufl.edu.

c. Commercial Filming – Requests for commercial filming or photography on the Campus for any political purpose, whether non-partisan or in support of any Political Campaign, Political Event or Political Candidate shall be submitted to UF Strategic Communications and Marketing at news@ufl.edu.   Please allow at least 15 business days to review a filming or photography request.

4.11 Political Activities Request

a. Who should file a request: The following groups must receive prior written approval from both the Office of Government & Community Relations and the Office of the Vice President for Business Affairs through the University’s Event Permitting System:

•    University employees and representatives inviting Political Candidates or a Political Campaign to Campus for non-political educational presentations;
•    University Hosts planning to host a Political Event; 
•    Individual students and groups of students not defined as an RSO (these groups must also receive written approval from the Office of the Vice President for Student Life); and
•    Third Parties wishing to host a Political Event.

b. Where to File a Request: Unless otherwise directed in this Policy, requests must be submitted to the Vice President for Business Affairs Event Permitting System (https://businessaffairs.ufl.edu/events/) at least 15 business days in advance of the proposed Event date. Events requiring a risk review per the Use of University Space policy must be submitted at least 30 days in advance of the proposed Event date. 

5.  Review and Adjudication

The appropriate Permitting Authority will review any requests for Political Event submitted to it through the Event Permitting System and will take all steps required of the Permitting Authority required by the Use of University Space policy. 

6.  Policy Violations

In accordance with the University’s Use of University Space policy, violations of this policy may include, without limitation, the following sanctions:

•    cancellation of the Political Event;
•    prohibition on reserving or using specific University venues or, alternatively, any University Resources, including all University space, for an appropriate amount of time determined by the Vice President for Business Affairs; and
•    charging for additional costs related to the user’s misuse of University Resources, including, without limitation, the following: 
o    venue cleanup and restoration,
o    property repair or replacement, and
o    increased staff fees.

Additionally, students, unregistered student groups, and Registered Student Organizations (including RSSOs and University Sponsored Student Organizations “USSOs”) may face similar sanctions and corrective actions to those listed above for failing to comply with these rules as well as further sanctions in line with the Division of Student Life principles, including referral to student conduct for violations of the student conduct code and the removal of registration status for Registered Student Organizations.

Finally, University staff, faculty, or other representatives who violate this Policy may face similar sanctions and corrective actions to those listed above as well as further administrative or disciplinary action concerning violations of this Policy up to and including termination of employment or expulsion.

Questions about this policy or reports of suspected violations should be directed to:

Office of the Vice President for Business Affairs
(352) 392-1336


Date Description
September 28, 2020 New Policy Adopted
June 25, 2021 Administrative Revision
March 21, 2023 Substantive Revision