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How NDSU Faculty and Staff Can Be Politically Active

At a campus forum, NDSU Chief of Staff Chris Wilson explained how faculty and staff can be politically active without violating the state’s corruption statutes.

“We all wear different hats, so what you can say and do depends on what hat you’re wearing when,” Wilson said. “We don’t lose rights as state employees. In fact, Board of Higher Ed policy encourages civic participation. We just have to clarify what hat we’re wearing by stating if we’re representing ourselves or the institution. We can’t speak for NDSU unless we’re authorized to.”

However, Wilson said North Dakota’s corrupt practices law prohibits the use of state resources for political purposes. Generally speaking, “political purposes” refers to ballot measures and candidates – things that happen on election day, not legislative testimony. So if you’re asked to provide information to legislators because you’re an expert on the topic, that’s not a political purpose. Even then, he suggests clarifying that your opinion is based on your expertise and that you’re not speaking on behalf of NDSU.

WilsonHowever, if you are speaking on a ballot measure or on behalf of a candidate, “you must take personal leave. Don’t work on a campaign at the office since time is a state asset,” Wilson said. “Use your personal computer and non-NDSU email to contact legislators on political issues. Don’t give opponents an opportunity to make it an issue.”

Wilson encouraged NDSU faculty and staff to communicate with legislators.

“Reach out to local legislators; just clarify that you’re speaking for yourself, not NDSU,” he said. “Tell them you’re a constituent, and be concise, short and professional.”

For questions about the NDUS or NDSU political activities policies or N.D. corrupt practices law, contact Wilson at christopher.s.wilson@ndsu.edu or 231-6409.

, Agriculture Communication Director, 701-231-7875

Filed under: Policies
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