WSU reminds employees rules regarding political activity

Policy states workers cannot use state time, equipment to share political messages with students, faculty members



Hannah Martian, senior sports management major and ASWSU pro tempore and education senator, said the university’s rules are fair for maintaining a neutral campus and they still allow freedom of speech.

BRADLEY GAMBLE, Evergreen reporter

Election season is a time for people to reflect on their ideals and discover their alignment on the political spectrum. Although for WSU, it serves as a reminder to remain neutral.

Recently, WSU’s Office of Internal Audits issued a press release reminding employees that while they are free to support any candidate, issues, or policies, they have to make sure they do so independently of the university.

Travis Ridout, political science professor, said the rules are reasonable since they still allow faculty to express their opinions. He said he is allowed to keep his historic display of campaign buttons.

“This policy seems very reasonable,” he said. “I’m also a taxpayer and I wouldn’t want my colleagues using the copy machine and state resources in order to print out flyers for their favorite candidate.”

Hannah Martian, senior sports management major and ASWSU pro tempore and education senator, said she found the rules to be fair for maintaining a neutral campus.

“It makes sure that faculty, staff and employees are still allowed the freedom of speech for the First Amendment,” she said. 

Martian said it is inappropriate for employees to engage in political activities while working under WSU. 

Employees are always free to express their political ideals, but under state regulations, they must ensure that any political action they take will not be seen as speaking on behalf of the university, according to the press release. 

The office said employees should refrain from using state time and equipment to share any political messages, whether it be with students or other faculty members. This includes WSU emails, computers and phone lines. Just one email will be enough for a violation, according to the press release. 

Employees who wish to share political messages must do so on their personal devices on their own time, according to the press release. 

Employees must make sure personal campaign activities do not interfere with their duties to the state or university, according to the press release. Any employee who uses work hours to collect signatures for ballot propositions, raise funds or organize campaigns can be issued a violation.

According to the guidelines, wearing a campaign button or having political materials displayed is considered personal expression. This is allowed as long as the material remains in the employee’s personal assigned space. Publicly visible spaces, like reception desks and walls, are considered problematic, since materials in those spaces can leave the impression that the university supports those campaigns.

More information on the guidelines can be found at the Internal Audit’s Political Use webpage.