Political Campaigning at UW-Madison Residence Halls

“The Division of University Housing in conjunction with the Residence Hall Advisory Board (RHAB) has created this policy recognizing that candidates for elective student office, municipal, county, state, and national offices and their representatives are interested in having access to students while also recognizing that residence hall students have a need for privacy in their living spaces.  It is our intent to fully encourage students to be active participants in the electoral process.

Chapter UWS 18.11(9) provides that “The residence hall students of each institution, subject to the approval of the chief administrative officer, shall establish policies and procedures assuring that political literature may be distributed and political campaigning may be conducted in state-owned residence halls consistent with the rights of residence hall students, and prescribing the time, place, and manner in which these activities may be conducted.”

General Guidelines:

  • Only University agencies, residence hall organizations, and registered student organizations shall be permitted to engage in political campaigning in the residence halls.  Staff, including student staff, is not permitted to engage in any form of political campaigning in the unit where they work.
  • Candidates for municipal, county, state, or national office must be invited or sponsored by a residence hall organization in order to campaign for office in the residence halls.  Candidates and their sponsors must follow all listed guidelines.
  • Residence hall organizations may not co-sponsor activities or events for commercial agencies outside of the University for the sole purpose of providing publicity or access to the halls for the outside agency.
  • University Housing dining rooms, carry-outs, or snack shops may not be entered for the purpose of distributing campaign material or to greet residents.  Tables or space are offered for reservation to eligible groups or individuals to provide access to residents at a reasonable time, place, and manner.  This provides a balance between access and resident privacy.

Door to Door Canvassing: All forms of door to door canvassing and/or campaigning are prohibited.  Residents may not participate in, nor escort individuals conducting these activities.  Access to individual residents is available via the US mail, or other means described in this policy.  Persons violating this prohibition will be escorted out of the residence hall or removed by University Police.

Public Forums: Residence hall organizations may schedule a public form in the common areas of the halls for a candidate or a group of candidates.  The expectation is that if staff and hall organizations in the hall are sponsoring the event, invitations will be extended to all candidates running for that particular office to participate in the event.

Postings: Candidates for elective student organizations and registered student organizations may post information in the residence halls.  If you are interested in posting information on bulletin boards, e-mail a copy of the poster to Housing staff at deskservices@housing.wisc.edu.  The poster must include the organization’s name and contact information.  You will be instructed to drop off a specific number of flyers for posting with the staff at each hall front desk.  They will then send the posters out for appropriate posting.  Posting patterns differ slightly by hall.

Information Tables: 

  • Residence hall organizations and registered student organizations may request the use of an information table to pass literature out to students.
  • Requests for information tables in residence hall lobby areas should be made to the hall specific Area Coordinator or Residence Life Coordinator.
  • Requests for tables or space outside Dining and Culinary Service facilities can be made by calling Conference Services at 262-5576.
  • The Dining facilities include: Gordon Dining and Event Center,  Four Lakes Market at Dejope, Rheta’s at Chadbourne, Holt Commons

Hall Sponsored Events: Residence hall organizations may invite candidates in as part of a program, debate, or forum.  As a registered student organization representing a candidate, you might consider contacting individual halls and letting them know of your interest in participating in a hall sponsored event.  Contact the Residence Life Office in whichever hall you’re interested in and inquire with the staff there.

Use of Public Address Systems or Housing Listserves: The use of public address systems or housing owned listserves are not permitted for political campaigning.  Staff is encouraged to use housing listserves to inform students about election dates and polling locations.

Chalking: Chalking can be used on sidewalks throughout University Housing.  Chalking is not allowed in or on buildings, under any overhang or immediately by a building access door.”

This guide was written by University Housing. Please contact Kay Reuter-Krohn, Associate Director of Housing, 262-4456 with questions or for additional information.  This policy and guidelines are reviewed periodically by residence hall students and staff and changes are made when necessary.

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