Political Expression Guidelines

The University of Iowa is a community that values the free expression of ideas and whose members hold a variety of political and philosophical views. As a public institution we cannot appear to support any particular political party or candidate, and any indication of partisanship on the part of the institution is to be avoided. The concern about the appearance of institutional support for a particular political viewpoint must be balanced against our respect for the rights of individuals to express political views in a manner that does not suggest institutional support. We urge departments and individuals to be respectful of the diversity of beliefs and refrain from displaying any campaign materials that may be seen as implying institutional support for a particular political party or candidate. These guidelines discuss both public areas and personal workplaces.

A public area includes any University property where members of the public may receive services or attend public events. Campaign materials should not be displayed in public areas. Certain common areas within work units may also be public spaces. These are spaces that are shared by multiple employees in the performance of their jobs. Such areas would include break rooms, conference rooms, and reception areas within work units. Because these areas are shared, and are not personal workspaces, campaign materials are not appropriate in these spaces.

Personal workspaces are areas occupied by a single University employee and where other employees or members of the public generally do not enter. Private offices or cubicles, for example, may be personal workspaces. Individual employees may exercise their right to express their political views and display campaign materials in their personal workspaces unless other members of the University community (students, faculty, or staff) regularly enter their personal workspaces to conduct University business. In these circumstances, the occupant of the office must consider whether campaign materials might be viewed as implying University support for that political party or candidate.

Employees are generally prohibited from engaging in political activity during scheduled work hours or when using University equipment. Employees may wear clothes or political paraphernalia that advocate for or against candidates or that expressly advocate for or against ballot issues, provided that such does not compromise workplace safety. However, DEOs may exercise their discretion to enact internal rules that would prohibit the wearing of campaign materials in the workplace. Such rules would then be applied evenly to all those within a particular work group.