Guidelines for Advocacy at UCSF

UCSF Chancellor Sam Hawgood, Vice Chancellor for University Relations Barbara J. French and Vice Chancellor for Science Policy and Strategy Keith Yamamoto walk in front of the US Capitol in Washington, D.C.
From left, UCSF Chancellor Sam Hawgood, Vice Chancellor for University Relations Barbara J. French and Vice Chancellor for Science Policy and Strategy Keith Yamamoto in Washington, D.C. Photo by James Kegley

There are legal restrictions on UC's involvement in political campaign activities based on the status of the University as a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization and as a state entity. Specifically, the University may not endorse/oppose (or contribute to) political candidates, nor may University resources (including University-paid time or equipment) be used for campaign purposes in connection with ballot propositions.

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

Personal Political Activity

UC and UCSF do not restrict any member of our community – student, trainee, academic appointee, staff employee – from exercising his or her right to engage in personal political activity. However, these activities should be undertaken apart from your role as a University employee or representative. Please refer to the following guidance:

  • Use of UCSF Facilities and Resources: No member of the University community may use University facilities or resources (including time on the job) for political purposes, except as specifically permitted by University regulations. This includes use of University letterhead for correspondence expressing personal support or opposition to federal executive orders, policies, proposed legislation, or other measures that are the subject of debate in the political arena. When corresponding with state and federal officials, University letterhead should be used only when the writer is representing the University.
  • Use of University Title: While you are free in your private individual capacity to endorse any political candidate or either side of a ballot initiative, you must avoid any improper inference of University endorsement of a particular position. Specifically, a University employee may use his or her University title for identification purposes only, and should include a disclaimer of University endorsement if the context might reasonably cause confusion as to whether a political endorsement is made in an official or unofficial capacity. To avoid creating such a misperception, many of those endorsing in political campaigns simply list themselves by name and location – for example, Dr. John Smith, Sacramento.

These limitations in no way constitute prohibitions on the right to express political views by any individual in the University community. Members of our community are encouraged to participate in the political process, including supporting candidates and taking positions on ballot measures using their personal resources on their own time.

If you have questions or need additional information, please contact Greta Schnetzler, Chief Campus Counsel, or Paul Takayama, Assistant Vice Chancellor, Community & Government Relations.