As you may be aware, VP Kristine Williamson sent an email regarding communications during the election period. Some members have expressed confusion and concern about the possible limitations. AUFA has sought information from Ms. Williamson, Elections Alberta, the Ministry, and sister organizations to clarify this communication.
Last month, the Government of Alberta published its Election Communication Policy, which restricts “government advertising and other communications activity to ensure that governments neither involve themselves in nor influence elections.” Universities are specifically mentioned as an entity that is to comply with this policy which is available online.
The Elections Act allows the University to continue with communications that are “continuous and “required” but the institution must ensure its communications are in step with provincial requirements during the writ period. The policy is not intended to limit or interfere with academic freedom and does not preclude staff members from engaging with political parties, their candidates or other political party representatives in conducting teaching and research.
Some key guidelines:
Athabasca University cannot make contributions (money or donations in-kind) to any political party or candidate running in an election.
University funds cannot be used to cover the cost of attending partisan political fundraising or campaign events.
University resources cannot be used to promote partisan political events or campaigns.
This would include using your AU email address for partisan political purposes, including distributing campaign information, forwarding campaign materials received in your AU email inbox, or using university mailing or email lists to distribute campaign materials.
Election signs and posters for candidates may only be placed on the publicly available bulletin boards inside university buildings. Signs placed elsewhere may be removed.
AUFA will reiterate that the University must recognize the right of students, employees, and professional and academic staff members to participate as individuals in the political process provided they do not use university resources to do so. The pursuit of academic activity related to the election is an important and acceptable activity, subject to applicable legislative frameworks.
If you are planning an event or meeting during this time where you would normally consider extending invitations to provincial elected officials, please contact your supervisor first.