Protocol for Washington University Positions on Issues of Public Policy

Washington University is frequently approached to take a formal institutional position on issues of public policy (often presented as ballot initiatives, legislation, resolutions, regulations, ordinances, and executive orders to direct governmental/quasi-governmental action). Final approval of official institutional positions resides with the Chancellor and/or the Vice Chancellor for Government & Community Relations, following consultation with appropriate University leadership. Groups and individuals affiliated with the University are not authorized to take institutional positions on public policy and should take care to clarify that any statements they make are not on behalf of the institution.

While the specific circumstances of each request can vary, there are several principles that help guide the Chancellor and Vice Chancellor in making these determinations:

  • If the public policy in question has an effect on the University’s core mission of teaching, research, and clinical care
  • If the public policy directly impacts the University’s campuses and/or our students, faculty, or staff

Public policy positions may take different forms, including, but not limited to, verbal and written testimony before a government committee; public comment submitted in response to a formal request by a government entity; institutional or Chancellor signature on association letters, statements, and other initiatives; endorsement of specific legislation; University requests for elected officials to sponsor legislation or support a position through Dear Colleague letters; and, the inclusion of the University logo on advertising, flyers, or other similar media which would indicate University support for a particular public policy.

Approved by University Council 8/14/2019
Approved by Chancellor Martin 8/15/2019

Responsible office: Office of the Vice Chancellor for Government & Community Relations, 314-935-5752