Expression of Political Opinion Policy
Excerpt from the preface of the Skidmore Policy on Political Activity:
Skidmore College is deeply committed to the values of academic freedom and encourages robust discourse reflecting a broad range of ideas, perspectives, and opinions; the College also is deeply committed to educating our students about informed, responsible citizenship and to reflecting that commitment broadly throughout the campus community. Skidmore prepares students “to make the choices required of informed, responsible citizens” by, among other things, encouraging and supporting their active participation in electoral politics. Therefore, the College invites, encourages, and welcomes all political parties, campaigns, and advocacy organizations working with student groups to campus subject to the rules related to the use of facilities and public safety.
At the same time, as a tax-exempt organization under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, Skidmore College is prohibited from directly or indirectly participating or intervening in any political campaign on behalf of or in opposition to any candidate for elective public office. This prohibition applies to all campaigns, including campaigns at the federal, state, and local level. Violations of this prohibition may result in the denial or revocation of the College’s tax-exempt status.
The prohibition on political campaign activity applies only to the College (the tax-exempt charitable organization), not to the activities of individuals in their private capacity. The prohibition on political activity is not intended to restrict free expression on political matters by leaders or officials of the College as individuals. Similarly, the prohibition on political campaign activity does not prohibit the College from having contact of any kind with individuals who are candidates for public office. This prohibition and other laws (for example, laws that regulate lobbying activity intended to influence proposed legislation), however, do impose certain limitations on expressions of political opinion by the College or those acting in official capacities on the College’s behalf.
The purpose of this policy is to articulate how the College balances those sometimes-competing values. This policy addresses political activity of the College, not the political activity of individuals. Nothing in this policy is intended to restrict individual freedom of speech or the robust exchange of ideas and viewpoints that are fundamental to the College’s educational mission. ...
Please review the entire policy for information about nonpartisan political activity, partisan political activity, special notes for faculty, use of college facilities, and lobbying.