As a 501(c)(3) and a state entity, there are legal restrictions on the types of political activities UCSF employees can engage in on behalf of UCSF. When engaging on issues with UCSF, generally informational activities are okay while campaign activities on behalf of candidates or ballot initiatives are not.
Follow these advocacy do’s and don’ts to be successful in your advocacy efforts.
Engage in local, statewide and federal legislative advocacy with UCSF to promote and protect our core missions of health care, scientific research and education. UCSF engages in advocacy once the UC Office of the President (UCOP) takes a formal position on legislation.
Join UCSF Advocates and stand up for values and policies that are fundamental to UCSF’s mission of advancing health worldwide. Sign up at ucsf.edu/advocates 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 Government Relations about how to best share your expertise, such as providing testimony during a hearing or public comment, 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 UCSF capacity.
Connect with UCSF University Relations before:
- Responding to media inquiries ([email protected]or (415) 502-NEWS)
- Meeting with elected officials or their staff in San Francisco, Sacramento, or Washington D.C. on UCSF business ([email protected])
- Inviting elected officials to UCSF events, both on or off campus ([email protected])
Don't endorse or oppose legislation in your UCSF capacity without UC taking a position and UCSF authorization – when in doubt, check with Government Relations.
Don't contribute to candidates or state ballot measures on behalf of UCSF.
Don't take or distribute statements in support of candidates or ballot measures influencing people to support or oppose a measure or candidate on behalf of UCSF.
Don’t link to campaign websites from UCSF 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; need to personally reimburse UCSF for improper use of UCSF funds; discredit UCSF research; and hurt UCSF’s reputation and your advocacy efforts.
You may engage in personal political activity in your private capacity (i.e. apart from your role as a UCSF 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 nurse employed at UCSF, 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 UCSF.”
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 medical/scientific jargon), advocate for issues in your district, and make a clear ask.
Don’t use University resources for partisan political activities, including UCSF email, copy machines and printers, stationery, facilities (classrooms, libraries, meeting space), financial accounts, name, insignia, logo, and/or seal, or through UCSF 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 UCSF (e.g. using UCSF 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 UCSF 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 Greta Schnetzler, Chief Campus Counsel, or Paul Takayama, Assistant Vice Chancellor, Community & Government Relations.