Advocacy Guidelines at UC Berkeley

Advocacy Guidelines at UC Berkeley

Due to the University’s 501(c)(3) status and because we are a state entity, there are legal restrictions around the types of political activities campus employees can engage in on behalf of UC Berkeley. When engaging on issues, generally informational activities are permissible while campaign activities on behalf of candidates or ballot initiatives are not. 

Follow these do’s and don’ts to be successful in your advocacy efforts.

UC Berkeley Advocacy 

Do's:

  • Engage in local, statewide and federal legislative advocacy in coordination with UC Berkeley’s Office of Government and Community Relations to promote and protect our core mission of teaching, research, and public service.  UC Berkeley only engages in advocacy once the UC Office of the President (UCOP) adopts a formal position on legislation.

  • Join the UC Advocacy Network and stand up for values and policies that are fundamental to our mission. Sign up today to learn more about opportunities to engage in policy change, advocacy trainings, events and more.

  • Prepare objective analysis (including for bills and ballot measures) that fairly presents the facts and uses objective language. 

  • Organize non-partisan events on campus, such as voter registration drives, debates, or neutral public forums where all sides of an issue are represented.

  • Coordinate with the Office of Government and Community Relations about how best to share your expertise, such as providing testimony or public comment during a hearing, or sharing your research or position with a decision-maker via email or in a meeting. Let us know when you have personal plans to travel to D.C. or Sacramento to determine opportunities to meet with legislative representatives in your UC Berkeley capacity.

          --Meeting with elected officials or their staff in Berkeley, Sacramento, or Washington D.C. on UC Berkeley business 

          --Inviting elected officials to UC Berkeley events, both on or off campus

Don'ts:

  • Don't endorse or oppose legislation in your UC Berkeley capacity without UC taking a position and campus authorization – when in doubt, check with Government Relations.

  • Don't contribute to candidates or state ballot measures on behalf of UC Berkeley.

  • Don't distribute statements in support of candidates or ballot measures influencing people to support or oppose a measure or candidate on behalf of UC Berkeley.

  • Don’t link to campaign websites from berkeley.edu accounts.

  • Don’t risk the consequences, which could include revocation of UC’s tax-exempt status; criminal and civil penalties for misuse of state resources; the need to personally reimburse the university for improper use of campus funds; discredit research; and hurt Berkeley’s reputation and your advocacy efforts.
     

Personal Advocacy

Do's:

  • You may engage in personal political activity in your private capacity (i.e. apart from your role as a UC Berkeley employee) such as writing op-eds, engaging in social media, making phone calls, and speaking at events - on your own time and using personal resources. Offer a disclaimer if appropriate, such as “I am a professor employed at UC Berkeley, speaking today on my own behalf” or “My title is for identification purposes only; this endorsement is made in a personal capacity and does not represent the views of the university.” 

  • Attend town halls and forums on your own time and ask questions about an issue you care about. Let your representative know you are an engaged constituent, and offer your expertise.

  • Join professional advocacy organizations that represent your interests or profession to support issues you care about on your own time.

  • Donate to and personally support political candidates with your own funds. 

  • Follow advocacy best practices: tell your unique story, keep your message simple and succinct (avoid academic/scientific jargon), advocate for issues in your district, and make a clear ask.

Don'ts:

  • Don’t use University resources for partisan political activities, including UCB email, copy machines and printers, stationery/letterhead, facilities (classrooms, libraries, meeting space), financial accounts, name, insignia, logo, and/or seal, or through UC Berkeley social media.

  • Don’t use paid time for individual advocacy efforts (use vacation or leave if engaging during work hours)

  • Don’t give the appearance of acting on behalf of the campus (e.g. using UC Berkeley letterhead) unless specifically authorized to do so.

  • Don’t distribute or display campaign materials on campus, including public ratings of candidates.

  • Don’t invite candidates to promote their campaign on campus.

  • Don’t create any confusion about your official UC Berkeley vs. private role.

Guidelines regarding the restrictions that apply to UC's participation in ballot initiative campaigns are outlined on the UC website.

If you have questions or need additional information, please contact David Robinson, Chief Campus Counsel, Chris Treadway, Assistant Chancellor, or call Esther Gulli, Executive Director at 510 643-2088.

Please note: This website contains practical advice.  These practices are advisable because following them will help you avoid having to answer questions and/or respond to records requests regarding your private political activities.  These recommendations err on the side of being conservative about use of campus resources and do not supersede any UC or campus policies, such as the campus Computer Use Policy.