Political Activities

Policy on Activities Related to Political Campaigns

Mount Holyoke College
September 2012

All members of the Mount Holyoke College community are free to express their individual political opinions and engage in political activities.  Faculty, students, and staff may support candidates for office or speak in furtherance of political causes, both on campus and elsewhere, subject to the limitations outlined below.  In doing so, it is important that members of the Mount Holyoke community speak only in their individual capacities and that they do not purport to speak or act for the College in political matters. 

This is because Mount Holyoke College is a charitable entity subject to federal, state, and local laws and regulations regarding political and campaign activities.  By law, “Organizations that are exempt from income tax under section 501(a) of the Internal Revenue Code as organizations described in section 501(c)(3) may not participate in, or intervene in (including the publishing or distributing of statements), any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for public office.”  (Rev. Rul. 2007-41, 2007-25 I.R.B. June 18, 2007)

Accordingly, members of the Mount Holyoke College community may not:

  • Hold fundraisers for political candidates on non-residential College property (social areas such as Blanchard may be used for distribution of information about political activities and campaigns).
  • Provide a candidate for public office an opportunity to speak on campus or use College-owned facilities unless authorized by the President or her designee.  In most cases, all legally-qualified candidates (at least) for that office must be offered equal access and opportunity to speak on that or a separate occasion.
  • Allow a candidate or political party to conduct a rally or other political event on campus unless authorized by the President or her designee. 
  • Cause the College to make, or to appear to make, an endorsement of, contribution to, or expenditure for a political candidate or party.
  • Use College photocopiers or fax machines for the reproduction of campaign literature.
  • Use College office addresses and e-mail addresses as a return mailing address for partisan political mailings.
  • Use College-owned telephones for phone-banking on behalf of a candidate or for other similarly significant partisan political uses.  (However, campus residential telephone services (e.g. in student residence hall rooms, or in College-owned faculty/staff rental apartments) may be used for these purposes.)
  • Use College resources or services, such as interdepartmental mail, e-mail, mailing lists, equipment such as duplicating machines, computers, and facsimile machines, or supplies for partisan political purposes.
  • Request that a College employee, as part of his or her job, perform tasks in any way related to partisan political purposes.
  • Lobby or attempt to influence federal, state, or local legislative action or a legislative or administrative official or staff member on behalf of College unless authorized by the President or her designee.  Any lobbying activity, even when authorized, must be conducted in compliance with applicable law.
  • Use federal funds, including contract or grant money, received by the College for lobbying activities. (Note, however, that persons may individually attempt to influence the legislative process and use their College title for identification provided they indicate that they are speaking for themselves and not for the College.)
  • Use the Mount Holyoke College letterhead, logo, or seal on materials intended for partisan political purposes.

Questions on whether planned activities are consistent with the College's obligations should be addressed to the Dean of the Faculty, the Dean of the College, the Vice President for Finance and Administration, or the Executive Director of Communications. Those individuals and their designees will interpret and apply these policies and guidelines in consultation with the Director of Government and Community Relations and the President.  Students and student groups planning political or campaign activities should discuss their plans with the Dean of the College or her designee.