As an institution of higher education, Dallas College encourages members of its community to fully and freely exercise their constitutional right to vote and to express their opinions regarding political candidates and key issues affecting local and state initiatives. However, in keeping with the role of the community college as a public, community institution, there are certain restrictions on exercising those rights on Dallas College property and in a manner that suggests endorsements of a particular cause or candidate by the college. This document outlines important guidelines for Dallas College employees and students regarding political activity on college property.
Use of College Resources:
Texas law and Dallas College Board of Trustees Policy and Procedures prohibit any and all uses of college resources to advocate political positions, including advocacy for or against a candidate. College resources are intended to be used to help meet general educational, cultural and recreational needs of the community and to conduct college business in furtherance of that goal. College resources include, but are not limited to, funds, facilities, time, staff services, space, campus mail (including electronic mail and listservs), vehicles, computing equipment and any other equipment, including telephones, fax machines, copiers, paper and supplies.
Considerations for the use of college resources are as follows:
- Dallas College employees may not take part in political advertising or campaign on work time or coerce others to do so. This includes sending emails, making phone calls or preparing written materials that advocate passage or defeat of a candidate or measure. Employees may, however, convey factual information concerning an election, such as the date of the election and, as is true for all citizens, engage in political activity on their own time. Please see Dallas College Board Policy DJ Local for guidance on what qualifies as work hours.
- Acceptable uses of Dallas College resources include establishing genuine curricular activities; encouraging student participation in the political process (e.g. allowing students to participate in political campaign activities as part of class curriculum); preparation by college staff of Dallas College-published brochures, flyers, etc., that provide purely factual information (e.g. date/time of election, amount of bonds, purpose of bond election); and allowing formally recognized student or employee groups/organizations to use Dallas College facilities for political purposes.
Pursuant to Dallas College Board Policy and Procedures, college facilities may be made available to community groups and members whenever such use does not interfere with the instructional program and is consistent with the educational and community service objectives of the college. Should any outside group, whether community members or students, seek to use Dallas College facilities for activities related to an election, these guidelines and any fee requirements prescribed by Dallas College Board Policy and Procedures shall apply to all groups equally, without regard to the political viewpoint of the groups involved.
- When necessary, employees and students should make clear that their affiliation with Dallas College does not imply college approval or disapproval of an expressed view, a particular candidate or specific issue. Such a disclaimer may be necessary in activities such as:
- Participation in a political meeting or when speaking on behalf of a candidate or issue;
- Writing a letter or signing a statement or petition connected to a political activity;
- Sponsoring or hosting a political candidate appearance.
Dallas College is committed to fostering open dialogue and encouraging the civil exchange of a diverse array of ideas, opinions and viewpoints. To that end, the college permits political candidates to speak at events or public forums as long as all candidates are provided equal access and opportunities to speak.
However as a public entity, Dallas College is prohibited from participating in, fundraising for, intervening in or endorsing any political campaign on behalf of any candidate for public office.
To eliminate any appearance of endorsement or sponsorship by Dallas College, all student or employee organizations sponsoring or hosting an appearance by a political candidate or candidates on college property must comply with and advise all speakers and staff of the following guidelines:
- The candidate’s appearance on Dallas College property shall be limited to the designated speaking/meeting site. Door-to-door or office-to-office campaigning, solicitation or fundraising by the candidate is strictly prohibited.
- Dallas College shall not indicate any support of, or opposition to, any candidate for public office, nor shall it promote such advocacy by others. To that end, neither the college name nor its logos, insignia or other identifying marks or that of its campuses may be used for such purposes or to solicit funds for or otherwise support or oppose any such political campaign.
- The candidate’s appearance may be in the form of a speech or question and answer session or some combination of the two. It shall not be conducted as a campaign rally or any similar event designed to engender support of a particular political candidate or issue.
- Any announcement or advertisement of a candidate appearance must bear the name of the sponsoring organization, if applicable, and must 1) clearly indicate that Dallas College does not support or oppose candidates for public office; and 2) state that the opinions expressed at the appearance are not those of Dallas College. In addition, during introduction of the candidate, the sponsoring organization must make it clear that the candidate appears at the request of the candidate or the organization, whichever is applicable, and not the college.
- There shall be no funds raised or solicited by anyone whatsoever at any time prior to and including the date of the candidate appearance or in connection with the appearance.
This prohibition shall be communicated to the candidate in writing and acknowledged by the candidate with signature.
- No Dallas College property or resources, including work hours (see Use of College Resources above), may be used to support or oppose any candidate, political party or political issue.
- The candidate and the sponsoring group must comply with all relevant Dallas College Policy and Procedures.
- Any expenses or service related to the appearance will be billed to the sponsoring organization.
If the candidate is an incumbent seeking re-election to the Dallas College Board of Trustees, the same guidelines apply. Election Code Section 255.003 prohibits the use of public funds in a campaign for election or re-election to the board.
Further, Dallas College Board Policy and Procedure BBF Local prohibits a board a member from engaging in any political activity while on college time or to utilize college resources for any political activity.
Therefore, for purposes of his/her re-election campaign, a board member shall have only the same access to Dallas College resources as other candidates and shall be constrained by the same guidelines.