There are many ways to be an advocate for UW–Madison. As state employees, faculty and staff follow guidelines regarding advocacy. A general rule of thumb is advocacy activities must be done separately from work time or work locations, and employees must use only personal resources. Learn more about guidance for UW employees.
The Wisconsin Alumni Association® is actively involved with advocacy and has a dedicated group working to create public dialogue about the importance of higher education in our state and generate support for UW–Madison. Learn more about these efforts.
In addition to supporting the university as public citizens, many at UW–Madison bolster the image of the university through outreach. Each day, members of our campus community extend the knowledge, expertise and resources of campus through outreach activities held throughout the state. Grant support is available to staff who are interested in bringing outreach programs to communities outside of Dane County through the Statewide Outreach Grant Incentive program.
Read more about statewide outreach activities.
Track and add “statewide outreach” activities to the UW Events calendar.
With the elections occurring this year, members of the UW–Madison campus community are reminded of campus and UW System policies regarding political activity on campus.
General policies for UW employees: Per system policy, political campaign activities are restricted by Board of Regents policy and state law in three ways: 1) employees may not engage in political campaign activities, including solicitation of signatures for petitions, during work time or in their work unit; 2) they may not use university resources to engage in political campaign activities at any time; and 3) they may not solicit contributions or services for a political purpose from other university employees while they are engaged in their official duties.
The lead up and introduction of the governor’s biennial budget bill raises questions about what efforts are appropriate to influence legislative consideration of the budget bill. Written or oral communications with legislators, legislative staff, the governor, the governor’s staff, or other agency officials involved in the legislative process (“state officials”) made to influence legislation constitute “lobbying” that is regulated by state law. Lobbying does not extend to providing responses to requests for information from legislators or legislative staff.
What follows is a description of the types of lobbying that university employees could do and the corresponding reporting obligations under the state’s lobbying law.
On university time:
- University employees undertaking official duties and on behalf of the university (mainly limited to those in positions of leadership) may contact state officials on university time but this will trigger state lobbying reporting. Under state law the university is required to report the names of those employees whose duties include attempting to influence legislation on behalf of the university. As a result, any employee engaging in lobbying activity should contact University Relations to report the contacts made. In addition, we recommend that such communications utilize materials developed by University Relations to ensure coordination of message and related matters.
- University employees are free to contact persons other than state officials on university time and using university resources without triggering reporting of that activity by the state’s lobbying law, so long as such contacts are minimal and do not interfere with the performance of job duties. Here again, we recommend employees contact University Relations to ensure coordination of message and related matters.
Off university time:
- University employees are free to contact state officials or others on their own time without using university resources and such activity will not require any reporting of that activity under the state’s lobbying law.
Questions concerning these matters may be directed to either Charlie Hoslet in University Relations (890-4880) or Ray Taffora in the Office of Legal Affairs (263-7400).