Staff reminded to refrain from political activities at work

Briant Lawler, News Editor

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The mid-term election will take place on Nov. 6. Those running for Governor, Senator, Representative, Attorney General, Secretary of State, and State Treasurer, from both sides, will be asking for your vote.

There is no doubt that the elections taking place across the country are very important, and will determine the course of state and national policy. As we hurdle towards these extremely important elections, it might be tempting for people to pontificate their political ideologies and frustrations.

Turina Bakken and Tim Casper, the Provost and VP of Instructional Learning and Effectiveness, respectively, sent out an email notice to all faculty and staff in September titled, “Appropriate Conduct at Work regarding the Fall General Election,” that reminded staff about “issues related to campaign activities.”

Madison College, in order to protect its tax-exempt status, needs to maintain independence from partisan politics. This extends to insuring that those on its payroll are continuing neutrality in their classrooms.

“It’s that time of year to remind folks of that and we’ve done that pretty regularly every two years during the fall election seasons,” Casper said.

Of course, anyone may participate in lawful, governmental exercises, such as attending rallies, signing or sharing petitions, and protesting in order to magnify voices and opinions that produce substantive effects.

But, in the College’s eyes, it is mandatory that these practices stay isolated from work life.

“Political buttons of reasonable size and number as an expression of your personal political views, provided the message does not cause disruption of the education program or otherwise interfere with your job duties,” the email notice reads.

It goes on to state that, “Classrooms and classroom time should not be used as a platform for advocacy of a political candidate or point of view.” It should be the goal of all instructors to “provide a balanced review of many perspectives on an issue,” regardless of party affiliation (or lack thereof).

Casper adds that college employees are “prohibited from using college resources to campaign for any candidate for office or to promote any ballot question.”

While it is important, and acceptable, to “encourage [our] students to vote,” institutions of higher education are harbors for students to gather and construct their own educated choices and opinions, which shape them to become well-rounded citizens.

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