Considerations for Political Candidates or Campaigns

As an institution of higher education, members of the DCCCD community are encouraged to fully and freely exercise their constitutional right to vote, and to express their opinions regarding political candidates and key issues affecting local and state initiatives. However, in keeping with the role of the community college as a public, community institution, there are certain restrictions on exercising those rights on DCCCD property and in a manner that suggests endorsements of a particular cause or candidate by the College District.  This document outlines important guidelines for DCCCD faculty, staff, and students regarding political activity on College District property.

Use of College District Resources:

Texas law and DCCCD Board Policy and Procedures prohibit any and all uses of College District resources to advocate political positions, including advocacy for or against a candidate. College District resources are intended to be used to help meet general educational, cultural, and recreational needs of the community and to conduct DCCCD business in furtherance of that goal.  College District resources include, but are not limited to, funds, facilities, time, staff services, space, campus mail (including electronic mail and listservs), vehicles, computing equipment and any other equipment, including telephones, fax machines, copiers, paper, and, supplies. 

Considerations for the use of College District resources are as follows:

  1. DCCCD Employees may not take part in political advertising or campaign on work time or coerce others to do so. This includes, sending emails, making phone calls, or preparing written materials that advocate passage or defeat of a candidate or measure. Employees may, however, convey factual information concerning an election, such as the date of the election and, as is true for all citizens, engage in political activity on their own time. Please see DCCCD Board Policy DJ Local for guidance on what qualifies as work hours.
  2. Acceptable uses of DCCCD resources include establishing genuine curricular activities; encouraging student participation in the political process (e.g. allowing students to participate in political campaign activities as part of class curriculum); preparation by DCCCD staff of DCCCD-published brochures, flyers, etc., that provide purely factual information (e.g. date/time of election, amount of bonds, purpose of bond election); and allowing formally recognized student or employee groups/organizations to use DCCCD facilities for political purposes.

Pursuant to DCCCD Board Policy and Procedures, DCCCD facilities may be made available to community groups and members whenever such use does not interfere with the instructional program and is consistent with the educational and community service objectives of the college. Should any outside group, whether community members or students, seek to use DCCCD facilities for activities related to an election, these guidelines and any fee requirements prescribed by DCCCD Board Policy and Procedures shall apply to all groups equally, without regard to the political viewpoint of the groups involved.

  1. When necessary, employees and students should make clear that their affiliation with DCCCD does not imply College District approval or disapproval of an expressed view, a particular candidate, or specific issue. Such a disclaimer may be necessary in activities such as:
    1. Participation in a political meeting or when speaking on behalf of a candidate or issue;
    2. Writing a letter or signing a statement or petition connected to a political activity;
    3. Sponsoring or hosting a political candidate appearance.

Candidate Appearances:

The College District is committed to fostering open dialogue and encouraging the civil exchange of a diverse array of ideas, opinions, and viewpoints. To that end, the College District permits political candidates to speak at events or public forums as long as all candidates are provided equal access and opportunities to speak.

However as a public entity, DCCCD is prohibited from participating in, fundraising for, intervening in, or endorsing any political campaign on behalf of any candidate for public office.

To eliminate any appearance of endorsement or sponsorship by the College District, all student or employee organizations sponsoring or hosting an appearance by a political candidate or candidates on College District property must comply with, and advise all speakers and staff of the following guidelines:

  1. The candidate’s appearance on DCCCD property shall be limited to the designated speaking/meeting site. Door-to-door or office-to-office campaigning, solicitation, or fundraising by the candidate is strictly prohibited.
  2. DCCCD shall not indicate any support of, or opposition to, any candidate for public office, nor shall it promote such advocacy by others. To that end, neither the College District name nor its logos, insignia or other identifying marks or that of its colleges may be used for such purposes or to solicit funds for, or otherwise support or oppose any such political campaign.
  3. The candidate’s appearance may be in the form of a speech or question and answer session or some combination of the two. It shall not be conducted as a campaign rally or any similar event designed to engender support of a particular political candidate or issue.
  4. Any announcement or advertisement of a candidate appearance must bear the name of the sponsoring organization, if applicable, and must 1) clearly indicate that the College District does not support or oppose candidates for public office; and 2) state that the opinions expressed at the appearance are not those of the College District or its colleges. In addition, during introduction of the candidate, the sponsoring organization must make it clear that the candidate appears at the request of the candidate or the organization, whichever is applicable, and not the College District.
  5. There shall be no funds raised or solicited by anyone whatsoever at any time prior to and including the date of the candidate appearance or in connection with the appearance. This prohibition shall be communicated to the candidate in writing and acknowledged by the candidate with signature.
  6. No College District property or resources, including work hours (see Use of College District Resources above), may be used to support or oppose any candidate, political party, or political issue.
  7. The Candidate and the sponsoring group must comply with all relevant DCCCD Policy and Procedures.
  8. Any expenses, service otherwise, related to the appearance will be billed to the sponsoring organization.

If the candidate is an incumbent seeking reelection to the DCCCD Board of Trustees, the same guidelines apply. Election Code Section 255.003 prohibits the use of public funds in a campaign for election o reelection to the Board. 

Further, DCCCD Board Policy and Procedure BBF Local prohibits a board a member from engaging in any political activity while on College District time or to utilize College District resources for any political activity.

Therefore, for purposes of his/her reelection campaign, a Board member shall have only the same access to College District resources as other candidates and shall be constrained by the same guidelines.