Carnegie Mellon University

Separation of Individual's and Institution's Interests

POLICY TITLE: Separation of Individual's and Institution's Interests at Carnegie Mellon University
DATE OF ISSUANCE: This policy was originally issued by the Office of the President on October 1, 1970, as Organizational Announcement No. 228-B. It appears in the current issues of the Faculty Handbook and Student Handbook.
ACCOUNTABLE DEPARTMENT/UNIT: Office of the Provost. Questions on policy content should be directed to the provost, ext. 8-6684.
ABSTRACT: Presents guidelines to avoid the improper use of the institution's resources and facilities for political purposes.


Carnegie Mellon University applauds and encourages the interest of individuals and groups who wish to work as citizens through political channels for the betterment of society. However, the university as a university is and must remain neutral on political issues.

In the light of the active political concerns of the members of the university community, the following guidelines are issued to avoid the improper use of the institution's resources and facilities for political purposes. This is vital for two reasons: (a) to preserve the university's neutrality on political matters and its function as a center for freedom of thought, and (b) to assure that its tax-exempt status is protected.

  1. A member of the faculty or administration (now expanded to include all members and groups of the university community) like any other citizen has the right to express his thinking on controversial public issues and to make it known to others. In doing so, however, he has the responsibility to make clear that he is expressing his individual views and to guard against giving the impression that he is speaking for the university.
  2. When he presents his views to the public, he may identify himself by his academic title and the name of his institution if he wishes to do so, but the fact that he is expressing personal views should nevertheless be made obvious.
  3. University facilities, e.g., bulletin boards, campus mail, duplicating machines (now expanded to include secretarial services) and office supplies (not including stationery) are provided for the conduct of university business. Occasionally an individual may wish to present his private views about a subject on which he feels deeply. In such case he may use university facilities to express them to others in the campus community, but not to the public.
    1. If this use makes only minor demands on these facilities and does not hold up regular university business, it is quite acceptable.
    2. If substantial use of these facilities is involved, the individual should schedule this work so that its interference with regular business is minimal and should reimburse the university for the cost of materials and services.
    3. If large numbers of messages are planned, and especially if they are to be sent to groups of the public, the work should be done by a commercial organization.

In any case the writer should distinguish such messages from regular university communications in an appropriate way and identify himself as the sender.

The following are explanatory and interpretive guidelines governing the application of Organization Announcement 228-B to actions and decisions on the use of Carnegie Mellon University's resources and facilities for political purposes.

  1. Organization Announcement 228-B applies to all members and groups of the Carnegie Mellon University community.
  2. Organization Announcement 228-B should be understood to apply to letters or other written material prepared by individuals or groups in connection with the solicitation of funds and/or votes for a political candidate or party. To carry out the spirit of this Organization Announcement, it should also be understood to mean that the name or seal or mark of the university or any of its divisions should not be used in the soliciting of funds and/or votes for a candidate or political party. Similarly, university office, faculty or staff member's office, or student activity office should not be used as a return mailing address for such solicitations.
  3. Any member of the faculty, staff or administration, or member of the student body engaging in political activity should make it clear that he is representing only himself and not the university. Such activities should not interfere with his obligation to the university.
  4. In no sense should Organization Announcement 228-B or these guidelines be interpreted as in any way restricting the scholarly and educational pursuits of members of the university community, nor in any way restricting the freedom of expression or exposure to ideas of any member of the university community.