The purpose of these protocols is to ensure that participation in political activities during a municipal, provincial or federal election or by-election is done within parameters that will protect the reputation and non-partisan status of Brock University, as a broader public sector institution funded by public money.
Participation in political activities refers to activities during a municipal, provincial or federal election or by-election and includes holding political events on Brock premises; attending or publicly supporting political campaigns; participation and attendance at political events by staff while they are carrying out their duties for Brock; and fundraising and political contributions.
These protocols cover staff participation in political activities and attendance at political events; on-campus student participation in political activities; and use of university facilities, premises and resources for political activities during a municipal, provincial or federal election or by-election. These protocols do not apply to employees in their capacity as private citizens in activities distinct and apart from their roles at Brock with the exception of section 4.
The University is a publicly-funded institution, as well as a registered not-for-profit charitable organization. As such, except as outlined in section 8, during a municipal, provincial or federal election or by-election Board members, employees and officers of the University cannot, either in their official capacity or at the University’s expense, engage in an activity that supports, financially or authoritatively, a political party or a candidate for public office.
As an institution of higher education, the University is committed to free and open discussion and the exchange of ideas and opinions on issues that affect the wider community, including the expression of political views within its campus. The University encourages students, faculty and staff to exercise their civic rights to participate as individuals in the political process.
However, Brock’s status as an institution of higher education dictates that it should ensure that activities carried out on its campuses and/or by members of the University community during a municipal, provincial or federal election or by-election, including political activities, do not call into question the University’s status as an impartial, non-partisan broader public sector institution.
Guidelines for University Personnel
During all municipal, provincial and federal elections and by-elections, University personnel are expected to follow the election guidelines below, which outline the types of activities that can take place in order for Brock University to maintain its impartiality.
Curricular activities and university-sponsored fora on public issues aimed at educating students only with respect to the political process shall be encouraged.
The hosting of political parties or candidates for educational purposes shall be left to academic departments or the Faculties under which such departments fall.
Candidates for an election are welcome to attend public events at the University so long as they do not campaign during their visit, such as distributing political or party materials. Incumbent candidates should be introduced, but cannot speak at events unless it is a government-funded announcement.
Tickets to political fundraising events should not be paid for by Brock University budgets.
During an election it is important that Senior Administration is publicly seen as being non-partisan, and should avoid attending political fundraisers.
Federally no institutional funding can be used to pay for fundraisers. Provincially there is no such policy.
No member of Brock’s Senior Administrative Council (SAC) can endorse a candidate in any election or by-election.
Universities are public spaces and are generally open and accessible to all members of a community. Brock maintains this same view. Political parties and individual candidates shall be eligible to use University facilities to engage in partisan activities, provided such facilities are booked and paid for through appropriate University office(s) responsible for booking facilities on the same terms that are available to any group wishing to use such space. If space is rented to a candidate in an election, any competing candidate would be able to rent space on the same terms and conditions. Candidates must been charged in order for the use of the room not to be deemed an in-kind contribution to their campaign.
It is not appropriate for any Brock University staff member to campaign for or endorse a specific candidate while in the workplace. While this policy does not prevent staff from supporting a campaign outside of work hours, Senior Administration are urged to not take prominent positions on campaign teams.
A staff member writing or speaking publicly on a public issue in a professional or expert capacity may identify themselves by their University position or qualifications, and may for that purpose use the name of the University.
Brock personnel commenting publicly on a public issue other than in a professional or expert capacity shall do so from their private address and shall not use the name of the University in this regard, or portray themselves as speaking on behalf of the University.
Appendix 1: Communications protocol circulated to SAC on 1 April 2011
Public comments during election campaigns
Unless there is a compelling reason to do so (i.e. to address a specific situation that directly involves the University), Brock Senior Administration officials should not make public comments during election campaigns about political platforms or issues raised by candidates or parties.
To become engaged in such dialogue could compromise Brock’s position as an independent institution, and risk having the University perceived as being partisan.
When faced with media requests, the response is to explain that as a matter of policy we do not comment on political matters during election campaigns.
Exceptions to this practice are made at the discretion of the President’s office, and only when a significant matter pertaining to Brock warrants public comment from a University official or spokesperson.
(Note: This is a guideline for officials speaking on behalf of University administration. It does not apply to faculty members or researchers engaged in media analysis or punditry based on their area of academic expertise.)
Similarly, when political candidates or leaders visit the Brock campus on campaign stops, speaking notes for University officials will not mention political issues and will not mention any political party by name. Typical University comments would include a welcome to the visitor(s), and then refer to broad, non-partisan themes such as the importance of government support for post-secondary education.