Political Activity

As noted elsewhere, Biola University is a unique environment committed to following Christ. By enrolling at Biola, students have vouched that they have made a personal commitment to Christ; further, Biola University has a strongly evangelical Christian commitment and requires that to be accepted, the applicant must be an evangelical believer.

While we hold these things in common, we recognize that within this community there may be a wide diversity of ideas and opinions on issues of the day, including, but not limited to, political perspectives. As part of our stated goal of “equipping men and women in mind and character to impact the world for Jesus Christ,” the University supports student efforts to be aware and become involved in the political process and campaign-related activities, both within the University community, and off-campus.

Important Limitations

However, as a non-profit, private institution of higher education whose activities are regulated in part by Section 501(c) (3) of the Internal Revenue Code, the University is prohibited from engaging in partisan political activity or permitting its resources to be used for support of such activities.

When endorsing or opposing a candidate for political office or taking a position on an issue, students and student groups within Biola University should undertake to make it clear that they are speaking only for themselves and are not stating a University position. Administrative officers, faculty, students and staff of the University are free to express their individual and collective political views provided they understand and make clear they are not speaking for or in the name of University.

Neither the University name nor that of any University entity (supported in part or whole by University funds), nor University insignia may appear on stationery or any other material used or intended for political purposes.

Political Postings and Advertising

Any and all political or partisan postings on campus are subject to the university Advertising & Solicitation policy and the university Displays & Postings policy, including but not limited to: posting locations, number of postings, approval process, etc. Placements of such postings shall be done by Biola students only.

Any and all political or partisan online communications are subject to the university Technology & Network Usage Policy; including but not limited to: unsolicited emails, etc.

Display tables for political or partisan purpose are subject to the university to the university Advertising & Solicitation policy and the university Displays & Postings policy. At least one Biola student must staff the table while it is in operation.

Political Disagreement

It is important to note that political discourse at Biola must be conducted in an atmosphere of civility and respect, an atmosphere that may be in stark contrast to the way politics are conducted elsewhere. Our eternal bonds as brothers and sisters in Christ cannot be set aside during the heat of partisan conflict. Our hope is that students develop the ability to openly discuss and debate, civilly persuade and plead, while maintaining awareness that what we say must be said in love. At the end of the day we must be willing to respectfully ‘agree to disagree.’

Therefore, actions disrespectful to others, whether connected to political disagreement or not, will not be tolerated, including (but not limited to) the following:

• Personal attacks, whether in person, print, or online;
• Heckling, spamming, trolling, or other disruptions of another’s events or online communications;
• Removing or vandalizing others’ posters, flyers, or other signage. Signage that is in violation of Biola policies should be reported to the Office of Student Development.

Such behavior by students or student groups is subject to disciplinary policies as outlined elsewhere in this Handbook.

Non-Partisan Political Activities

Certain nonpartisan political activities (such as properly organized voter registration activities, voter education programs, and candidate debates) are encouraged, but only if they do not evidence a preference for or opposition to a political party, candidates, or current ballot measure.

In order to ensure that all legal and University requirements are followed, advance approval for these events must be obtained from the Office of Student Development, which will, if necessary, provide further guidance to the organizer.

Electronic resources may also be used for non-partisan voter education purposes. For example, a university web page with current election information may include a link to candidates’ web sites, if the web page (a) includes all legally qualified candidates and (b) excludes any commentary in support or against a candidate, express or implied. Again, a statement should be given that the university does not endorse nor oppose any of the candidates.

On-campus appearances by candidates, their representatives, and/or ballot-measure advocates:

As an important part of their educational experience, student clubs may invite speakers to campus representing a diverse range of views. In terms of political or partisan issues, it is important for all members of the University community to adhere to certain standards applicable to appearances on campus by candidates, representatives of candidates, and other representatives of political parties or political action committees.

If candidates or their representatives are invited on campus, all legally qualified candidates for the same office must be invited and given an equal opportunity to speak and participate. Therefore, all such appearances must be coordinated with the Office of the President, specifically the Vice President of University Communications & Marketing, who will help ensure that opportunities to appear on campus are extended to all viable candidates running for a particular public office.

Appearance of a candidate for public office (or their representative) on campus must be for an educational or informational talk to the university community and must be sponsored by a registered student organization and/or academic department. The speaker's appearance must constitute a speech, question and answer session, debate, or similar communication in an academic setting, and must not be conducted as a campaign rally or event. The appearance or presentation shall not be used to collect campaign or other political contributions or commitments from members of the audience.

The event moderator should make it clear that the institution does not support or oppose any candidate. At the beginning of each political event, after the event is fully convened, a moderator from the sponsoring University unit must deliver the following spoken disclaimer:

“This event is sponsored by ______________. The use of the University’s facilities for this event does not constitute an endorsement by the University. The University does not endorse these candidates or organizations or any other candidates or organizations in connection with this or any other political campaign or election.”

Admission to speaker appearances must be open to the entire University community and, if the sponsoring organization chooses (in compliance with other applicable University policies), the general public, without regard to the attendees' party affiliations or support of any particular candidate. Admission may not be controlled by speakers, campaign staff, or any other person or organization not affiliated with the University.

The University may choose to allow representatives of the news media to be present during a speaker's appearance, but only if access is permitted in a politically neutral manner. Media coverage may not be directed or controlled by speakers, campaign staff, or any other person or organization not affiliated with the University. Press conferences and other election-related media events managed by candidates and their campaign staffs generally are not permitted on University premises. Sponsoring groups anticipating or seeking media coverage are responsible for contacting the Office of the President, specifically the Senior Advisor for Communications, in advance of any appearance.

Use of University Facilities and Resources

University-related organizations composed solely of members of the University community may utilize available University building space (University facilities regularly reserved for student use and other University space such as lecture halls and meeting rooms) to engage in partisan political campaign activities within the University community, provided that such organizations follow the standard University procedures for reserving such facilities, without preference or hindrance, and pay in full any rental fees for the use of such facilities that they would otherwise be charged. All use of University properties are subject to University policies regarding time, place, and manner.

Organizations that are composed of non-University members, participants or employees, in whole or in part, are ineligible for use of University space to engage in partisan political campaign activities, except in contracted facility-rental situations under the auspices and policies of Conference Services.

Example: a meeting on campus with an organizer for a specific candidate or ballot measure that is focused on recruiting campaign workers from the student population would be a violation of these guidelines. On the other hand, a Biola graduate now working for a particular candidate speaking on campus to a group of students about what it has been like to be in the political arena, and what her/his particular experience has been, would be allowable.

Campus organizations and departments may use campus communications to announce political forums and discussions sponsored by officially constituted campus groups. However, use of campus communications -- including those provided by University postal services, phone system, or its website(s) and computer networks -- for partisan political activity is not allowed.

All on-campus political activities, including services and materials, must be paid for with non-University funds. Per the U.S. Supreme Court (Rosenberger v. Rectors & Visitors of UVA, 1995), student ‘activity’ fees are not considered ‘University funds.’

Further, the following will not be used for political or partisan purposes:

• University-provided office supplies, office telephones, facsimile machines, copiers, etc.
• University mailing lists-including the addresses and e-mail addresses of departmental offices or the offices of faculty or other employees;
• The University's sales tax exemption for purchases of goods and services.
• University office addresses and e-mail addresses may not be used as a return mailing address for partisan political mailings.

Fund-Raising

Funds or contributions for political candidates or campaigns may not under any circumstances be solicited in the name of University or on campus, and University resources may not be used in soliciting such funds. If University students, faculty, or staff make political contributions, they must do so as individuals and not on behalf of University.

Student groups may not use their student-fee allocations to make direct gifts, contributions, or donations to political campaigns or candidates. Student organizations may, however, choose to use their allocations to support their own expressive activities and views on public policy issues and other interests, within the bounds of this policy.

In-Class Involvement

University students may be asked to participate in political campaign-related activities as part of for-credit class coursework only to the extent that (a) such activities are genuinely aimed at educating students with respect to the electoral process, and (b) no student is required to be active in a campaign for a candidate or cause she or he does not support.

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