The Campaign: Preparing for a general election season

electionAs the Republicans head to Cleveland and the Democrats to Philadelphia for their party conventions, many could be forgiven for assuming the general election has already begun. After all, the parties have had their presumptive nominees for months and the political ads have been flooding the airwaves for even longer.

But until the delegate votes are cast and counted on the convention floor, the nominees are still just presumptive and the primary season continues.

In North Carolina, a state many pundits are calling a toss-up when it comes to the presidential race, there are also competitive senatorial and gubernatorial races. In other words, prepare yourself — it will be a very active fall on campus and throughout our home state.

So find some extra patience for the numerous political ads, candidate visits and phone calls to come — but also, take a look at Duke University’s guidance regarding campus political activity and engagement with government officials. The information, which is located on our office website, provides general guidance to members of the Duke community as they consider their engagement with various political actors.

This information is based on guidance from the Office of University Counsel, but it does not address every situation nor does it constitute legal advice. If questions arise, please do not hesitate to contact the Office of Government Relations.

Please take the time to familiarize yourself with the situations the guidance does address — including employees speaking out on political issues, their involvement in political campaigns, candidates appearances on campus, and speaking invitations to candidates from faculty and student groups.

But here’s the big thing to know: as a non-profit, tax-exempt entity, Duke University must abide by Federal and state laws prohibiting the use of its facilities, funds, services, personnel or other resources to support or oppose individuals or organizations campaigning for public office.

So when considering an action, ask these questions:

  • When speaking on behalf of a candidate, am I making sure to note that my views are not those of the University?
  • If distributing campaign materials, am I using my personal email and computer?
  • If inviting a candidate to speak on campus, am I working with the Office of Government Relations to make sure all of the rules are being followed?
  • If advising a campaign, are you doing so on personal time and using personal resources?

As mentioned earlier, the Office of Government Relations stands ready to answer further questions and offer guidance in specific situations.