Wittenberg University, as a private, church-related, liberal arts college, promotes the free and responsible articulation, exchange and debate of ideas among the members of the community. In accordance with our mission we challenge our students to become “responsible global citizens” and be intentional about service to the community. We encourage civic engagement because in those pursuits students develop the confidence and leadership needed to work with others toward “seeking common solutions to the problems facing our world.” At the same time, Wittenberg asserts its responsibility to preserve a community that balances individual rights with the interests of the university and that complies with applicable laws. Under federal law, to maintain and protect the university’s status as a charitable tax-exempt organization, the university cannot directly or indirectly contribute to any political party or candidate or lobby on behalf of any candidate or partisan cause.
To further these principles, the following guidelines apply:
All faculty and staff will seek to maintain Wittenberg’s status as a charitable tax-exempt organization under federal law by discharging their institutional responsibilities and conducting their personal affairs in a manner that does not involve the university, either directly or implicitly, in impermissible political activities.
An individual member of the faculty or staff or a group officially recognized by Wittenberg may distribute political or other non-Wittenberg printed materials to other persons directly. All materials must conspicuously display the name and address of the person or organization that has prepared and is distributing the material, and in the case of an organization, the name and address of a responsible officer. In the case of individual mailings, the material must be addressed by name and campus mail box number. Hand-to-hand distribution is restricted to the area in the lower level of the student center adjacent to the student mailboxes, unless the dean of students has granted written permission for alternative sites for such distribution. E-mail may be sent to individuals, but Wittenberg maintained listserves may not be used for political messages, with the exception of “Townhall” which was created for non-business communication within the community. All Wittenberg employees and retirees are able to read and post analysis, opinions and information to this forum open to all political perspectives. “Townhall” exists as a medium for free exchange of ideas among those who want to do so. An automatic disclaimer banner is included on each message sent to “Townhall” that explains that “The opinions and statements posted on “Townhall” are those of the individual participants, acting on their own behalf and not on behalf of the university nor sanctioned by the university.” Individuals who are not members of the faculty, staff, or student body shall not distribute political materials on the campus, by campus mail or campus email.
These restrictions do not apply to public streets and sidewalks dedicated to and under the public domain of the City of Springfield, but activities in those areas are subject to the jurisdiction of, and the laws and regulations generally applying in, the City of Springfield.
Individual faculty and staff members may endorse and support individual political candidates and partisan causes and belong to, contribute to, or otherwise participate in any political, trade, or similar organization. If a member chooses to endorse any political candidate or partisan cause, such endorsement may not imply directly or indirectly the support of the university. University materials, such as stationery and copying expense or clerical services, may not be used.
If a faculty or staff member chooses to seek an elected or appointed office in any local, state, or federal government, that member must first advise the provost or the appropriate vice president to determine that the proposed duties and responsibilities of the political office do not conflict with the employee’s duties and responsibilities to the university. If the provost or vice president determines that a conflict exists, the employee may choose to apply for a leave of absence from Wittenberg, without pay, to accept the elected or appointed office.