Political Activity

W&L is a long-time proponent of freedom of expression, and adopted the Chicago Statement affirming freedom of expression in December 2015. W&L is unwavering in its commitment to the free and open debate of competing ideas. W&L is also subject to Internal Revenue Code § 501(c)(3) limitations prohibiting tax-exempt institutions from engaging in political activity, such as supporting or opposing candidates for public office.

In order to maintain freedom of expression, while ensuring that the political activity of our community members will not be attributed to W&L: 

1. Political activity by student organizations1 shall be governed by the Standards for Student Organizations found in the Student Handbook.2

2. Employees who desire to participate in campaign activities during their normal working hours should take personal or vacation time or leave without pay to do so.

3. Employees can engage in off-hours political activity, but if the University is identified (i.e. "I'd like to welcome Dr. Jane Doe, Dean of the College, Washington and Lee University"), an express statement should be made by the employee that she is conveying personal opinions that are not the opinions of the University.

4. No W&L community member (ex. employee, faculty, administrator) speaking for or on behalf of the University may advocate for or against a candidate for public office or use University resources (ex. University letterhead, secretarial, duplicating, computing, email, campus notices, etc.) to support or oppose a candidate for public office.


1Recognized Student Organization (hereinafter "Student Organization") means any student organization that has been recognized by the Executive Committee of the Student Body, the Student Bar Associations, or Student Affairs.

2IRS prohibitions on political activity do not apply to students in their individual private capacity; W&L encourages students to exercise their rights to participate in the electoral process; individual students are not prohibited from advocating for candidates on their personal property, such as posting signage in their own room in University residences, advocating for candidates on their personal social media accounts, posting campaign stickers on their private vehicles, or wearing apparel in support of a candidate for public office.