Political Activity Policy
Hamilton College is dedicated to providing students with an educational environment that promotes engaged citizenship in a democratic society. Additionally, Hamilton College strongly supports freedom of expression and the exchange of ideas. As an academic community we also seek to have our engagement in political expression be of a civil and thoughtful manner.
As a tax exempt entity, Hamilton College is prohibited by federal law from participating in or attempting to influence or endorse campaigns for any elective office or ballot proposal. The following policy attempts to balance these competing considerations of free expression, civility, and federal election law while providing members of the college community and students with guidance in conforming their political activity to these considerations.
Guiding Principles of Hamilton College Political Activity Policy
- Hamilton College encourages civic engagement of all forms by the members of the college community. Such political activity is encouraged as long as it is consistent with existing college policies and with law.
- Students, faculty, and staff are encouraged to exercise their rights as individual citizens to participate in the political process.
- In order to maintain the College’s nonpartisan and independent status and to ensure compliance under section 501(c)(3) of IRS code and with the Federal Election Campaign Act, the college itself cannot participate in political campaigns.
- Nonpartisan voter registration activities may be conducted by the College and registered student organizations.
Students and Student Organizations
- Participation in political activity by Hamilton students is encouraged as part of a liberal arts education, therefore students are accordingly encouraged to engage with and express political views, including those of a partisan nature.
- Students are to be respectful of other members of the Hamilton College community.
- Student Organizations should not use college resources in such a way that would imply endorsement of political activity or partisan positions by the college (e.g. using college funds, or Hamilton College letterhead to promote political causes).
- Registered student organizations in good standing may use Hamilton’s facilities for partisan political purposes, including campaign-related events. It is important in connection with any such event that the event is sponsored by the student organization and not by the College itself, or any department, instrumentality or affiliate of the College.
- Student groups, including clubs and organizations, have the right to sponsor speakers, movies, political events, etc. that espouse diverse political views and may advertise such events using official group email accounts. (Student groups who wish to sponsor speakers and campaign- related events must abide by the policies outlined in the Student Organization Manual). Additionally, The name of the sponsoring student organization must be included in all advertising and marketing materials in any medium. Any advertising or marketing materials must include a disclaimer stating that the College does not endorse or oppose any candidate for office.
- No fundraising may occur at or in connection with any candidate appearance.
*Portions adapted from Kenyon College, Williams College, and Coe College