Advocacy and Political Engagement

About Political Engagement

As our life’s work is rooted in serving Californians and California communities, it’s natural that many UC employees are deeply invested and involved in political activities. Although such engagement as private citizens is permissible and common, it’s crucial to remember that many laws and policies prohibit the university from engaging in political activities in support or opposition to candidates, parties and ballot measures.

These restrictions apply to the activities of the university overall, as well as to the activities of individual faculty and staff members — either while acting in their capacity as representatives of the university or while using university resources. It’s essential for all UC employees to comply with these rules. There are potential criminal and civil penalties for misuse of public resources, and, in the case of the rules that apply to tax-exempt organizations, the university’s tax-exempt status could even be jeopardized. 

What constitutes prohibited political activity in a given situation, either for state ballot measures or for federal Section 501(c)(3) purposes, must be based on all of the facts and circumstances. Even activities that are intended to be nonpartisan or that fall well short of an expressed endorsement of, or contribution to, a particular candidate, political party or ballot initiative campaign may violate the prohibitions on political activity. Therefore, before any member of the University community engages in an activity that implicates or appears to implicate these prohibitions, please contact the UC Davis Government and Community Relations team. 

To help UC employees better understand and follow these rules, the Office of the General Counsel offers a number of resources:

About Advocacy

Assemblyman Robert Rivas and Veterinary Students

While partaking in political activities in support/opposition of candidates, parties and ballot measures, as noted above, is generally not allowed, legislative advocacy can be permissible.  

Sharing information and insight with legislators about the myriad issues that affect people every day is okay and its important. This is why the Office of Government and Community Relations works with campus staff, students, faculty, alumni, parents and community leaders and organizations to advocate on behalf of issues affecting UC and UC Davis.