Policies Regarding Political Activities
As a private college, St. Olaf permits recognized student groups to use campus facilities for certain partisan political purposes so long as such groups pay the usual and customary charges and otherwise comply with rules applicable to student groups and to use of campus facilities, in accordance with this and other campus policies.
- Promoting issues, a particular political party, and its agenda.
- Hosting public official visits, hosting candidate visits other than fundraisers. All public official and candidate visits must be sponsored by a campus department or registered student organization.
- Registering voters.
- Getting out the vote other than for a specific candidate, and similar activities.
- Candidates are permitted in Buntrock Commons but must restrict their campaigning to a pre-reserved tabling space.
Political Activity in Buntrock Commons on Election Days
Buntrock Commons serves as the polling location for on-campus St. Olaf students, faculty, and staff. As such, political activity on election days is prohibited both in Buntrock Commons as well as within 100 feet of the building entrances. Political activity includes but is not limited to:
- Posting print materials about or relating to political candidates or ballot measures.
- Distributing campaign materials.
- Displaying candidate logos or slogans (clothing, buttons, stickers, etc.).
Prior to election day, all posted materials about or relating to political candidates or ballot measures must be removed. Any candidate logos or slogans must be removed or covered before entering Buntrock on election days. All community members are expected to adhere to these regulations.
Restriction on Use of Allocated Funds
St. Olaf provides allocation of funds collected from student services’ fees to recognized student groups through a grants and co-sponsorship funding program through the relevant branch of the Student Government Association. Allocated funds must be used for the recognized student group’s own activities and may not be transferred to or spent to benefit any other organization, individual, or candidate. In addition, because of campaign finance laws, allocated funds may not be used to provide indirect or in-kind contributions to a particular candidate for public office, a campaign committee, political action committee, PAC, “527” group or a political party unit.
An indirect contribution includes:
- Paying expenses on behalf of the candidate, committee, group or party.
- Providing anything of value without charge, including services, printed materials, facilities, food & drink, use of a computer, use of a mailing list, etc.
- Volunteer services are not considered an in-kind contribution and are permitted.
If a student group wishes to raise funds so that it can provide direct, indirect or in-kind support to candidates, campaign committees, political action committees, PACs, 527 groups or political party units, they are cautioned that this is an activity that is regulated by the campaign finance laws of Minnesota, for state-level candidates, and the Federal Elections Commission, for federal-level candidates. If a student group wishes to engage in this type of activity, they are encouraged to seek appropriate counsel to ensure compliance with campaign finance laws.
Use of Campus Facilities for Political Visits and Fundraisers
Student organizations are able to invite candidates for office to campus and host them with the intention of connecting with students and general voter engagement. All student organizations desiring to host a candidate on campus must execute a contract through the Office of Student Activities a minimum of four weeks in advance of the scheduled visit. Departments interested in hosting a candidate must consult with General Counsel to execute a contract. Tabling spaces and other campus locations may not be reserved until a contract has been successfully completed.
A student group that wishes to host a fundraiser for a political candidate, campaign committee, political action committee, PAC, “527” group or political party unit is not permitted to use campus facilities without charge. Doing so constitutes an in-kind campaign contribution from the college, which is not permitted by campaign finance laws. St. Olaf has established a reasonable charge for use of its facilities and these fees apply to recognized student groups wishing to host a fundraiser for an individual candidate, campaign committee, political action committee, PAC or 527 group. These fees must be paid either by an individual or by the campaign, committee, group or party directly. Student groups wishing to host campaign fundraisers are cautioned to coordinate with the individual candidate, committee, group or party regarding other fundraising expenses, such as food, beverages, and entertainment, to ensure they are reported and accounted for as required by applicable campaign finance laws. Again, SGA-allocated funds may not be used for any of these purposes.
Political Campaign Postings
Literature and flyers regarding off-campus political campaigns, (i.e. US Congressional or Presidential campaigns; state or local offices) are permitted to be posted within the Commons but must list the sponsoring recognized campus group. Any postings advocating a particular issue must also identify the sponsoring groups. All postings must follow posting/publicity guidelines listed above. On-campus election campaigns (i.e. Student Government) must follow SGA Election guidelines. These can be obtained from SGA in the Office of Student Activities, BC 108.
Political Campaigning in Residence Halls
Political candidates and members from political parties and organizations are allowed to campaign in the residence halls and may knock on individual student rooms as long as they adhere to the following conditions:
- May only be in the hall between 10:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m.
- Must be escorted at all times by a resident of that residence hall
- Will not knock on room doors that display a “No political solicitation” sign.
People not adhering to the conditions above will be escorted from the building by residence life staff or Public Safety and will be trespassed from campaigning in the residence halls.
Advertising in Residence Halls
Guidelines have been established concerning the posting and distribution of advertising materials in the residence halls. All groups and individuals wishing to publicize in the residence halls must drop off publicity in the residence life offices.
Nothing is permitted to be slid under residence hall room doors.