University of Washington Policy Directory

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*Formerly part of the University Handbook
Student Governance and Policies

Student Policies

Chapter 202

Guidelines Relating to the Expenditure of Public Funds and the Use of University Facilities by the ASUW, GPSS, and Other Affected Organizations

[The following guidelines are intended to advise the members of the Associated Students of the University of Washington (ASUW), Graduate and Professional Student Senate (GPSS), and other affected organizations of legal requirements and limitations relating to the expenditure of public funds and the use of University facilities.]

1.  Basic Policy

The University of Washington is an institution of higher education provided for and maintained by the people of the state of Washington. It is an agency of the state of Washington. The Board of Regents of the University of Washington has delegated to the ASUW and GPSS certain functions relating to student activities, and financially supports the ASUW and GPSS by allocating to them monies derived from an involuntary fee assessed against all students under the authority of RCW 28B.15.220. Because of this relationship, court decisions and formal opinions of the Attorney General's Office have characterized the ASUW and GPSS as agencies of the University and the state of Washington. Consequently, University facilities available for use by the ASUW, GPSS, and other organizations, as well as ASUW and GPSS funds, must be considered public in nature and subject to the statutory and constitutional limitations as to their use and management to which all public facilities and funds are subject, in addition to such limitations as the Board of Regents or its authorized representatives might impose and those contained in the Articles of Incorporation of the respective organizations. Student senates, commissions, agencies, and other component units similarly funded by the ASUW and GPSS funds are subject to the obligations and limitations set forth in these guidelines as are the ASUW and GPSS.

2.  ASUW/GPSS Fiscal Activity

  A. The Washington State Supreme Court has held that public agencies may act only under express or implied statutory authority. In addition, the Washington State Constitution prohibits the giving or lending of public funds to any private individual or group. These limitations, in general, apply to any disbursement made by the ASUW or GPSS to or for any private individual or group. Under our Supreme Court decisions, an expenditure of ASUW and GPSS funds is a prohibited gift when made for the direct or primary benefit of someone other than the membership of the ASUW or GPSS of the University itself. A loan of ASUW or GPSS funds to a private individual or group is also prohibited regardless of its purpose. ASUW and GPSS disbursements are, furthermore, limited to what reasonably may be termed "student-body purposes."

  B. Before the ASUW or GPSS disburses to any private individual or group any of its funds for any purchase, service, or other benefit, such individual or group must have satisfied all requirements necessary for the receipt of public funds. These may include licensing, and other legal qualifications. Similarly, the ASUW or GPSS must have satisfied all purchasing, printing, and other applicable requirements imposed under authority of law and public agencies before it completes any such transaction. As used in these guidelines, the term "group" includes, but is not limited to, a partnership, committee, association, corporation, organization, or other assemblage of persons.

3.  ASUW/GPSS Program Management

It is recognized that educational programs are among the services the ASUW and GPSS may provide for the benefit of their members. The ASUW and GPSS have the responsibility to present their programs fairly and in such a manner as to insure that through their programming activities, they do not devote public funds or property for other than public purposes.

4.  ASUW/GPSS Political Activity

  A. Under these limitations, i.e., the constitutional provisions previously mentioned, the limited authority and purpose of the ASUW and GPSS, and also the Federal Corrupt Practices Act, the ASUW and GPSS are prohibited from directly or indirectly making any contribution or expenditure of anything of value in connection with a local, state or federal election. Any contribution of ASUW or GPSS or other public funds or property to a political candidate or cause, or political endorsements by the ASUW or GPSS, is included in these prohibitions.

  B. Under state law the ASUW and GPSS have limited authority to expend their funds to influence legislation. State case law prohibits expenditure of public monies for influencing legislation at the federal and municipal levels including action by the Congress of the United States and any local council, board, or similar governing body or by the public by referendum, initiative, constitutional amendment, or other similar process. The expenditure of public monies for influencing legislation at the state level is permitted if such monies are used for advocating the official position or interest of the University of Washington or the official position or interest of the student body of the University of Washington. The "official position or interest of the University of Washington" on any issue must be established by the Board of Regents and the ASUW/GPSS must be authorized by them to act as a lobbyist on their behalf. ASUW and GPSS have the ability to lobby a position different from that of the administration but relevant to the University. ASUW and GPSS can lobby on those higher educational issues that concern or affect University of Washington students. ASUW and GPSS may lobby on ASUW/GPSS agenda items in accordance with the ASUW/GPSS official lobbying agendas. The President of ASUW and GPSS along with the ASUW Office of Government Relations Director and the GPSS Vice President of External Affairs are the designated lobbyists for ASUW and GPSS respectively. The phrases "influence legislation" and "influencing legislation," as used in connection with these guidelines, includes contacting, or urging the ASUW/GPSS membership or the general public to contact members of a legislative body for the purpose of proposing, supporting, or opposing legislation, or publicly advocating the adoption or rejection of legislation.

5.  Use of University Facilities by Private Campus and Other Organizations for Political and Community-Oriented Activities

Under RCW 28B.20.200, the purpose of the University of Washington is to provide a liberal education in a number of academic fields; it has been established for public benefit rather than for the benefit of any private endeavors. Consequently, private organizations composed solely of students, faculty members, and staff members of the University of Washington, and others, may be authorized by appropriate officials to use University facilities and services for political and other community-oriented activities, subject to applicable scheduled rental charges and University rules, regulations and procedures. Conditions for all such use include, in addition to previously mentioned rental charges, reimbursement for the use of telephones and other utilities or services, maintenance and security, campus mail services, postage, vehicles, computer time and other incidental costs. In no case may University facilities or services be used to establish or maintain an office or headquarters for a political candidate or partisan political cause. Rules, regulations, policies, procedures, and practices regarding the use of University facilities shall not discriminate or promote discrimination among political parties or groups solely on the basis of their particular political viewpoint.

AI, in consultation with Attorney General's Division, May 1971; July 1977; November 1978; April 4, 2017.