The controversy over political expression on campus stunned professors. Many colleges, especially public institutions, distribute reminders in election years about permitted and barred political activity. These policies typically bar the use of college funds for campaign activities and may direct employees to be sure that their public statements about candidates do not imply an endorsement by the institution.Yes, it's important for universities to be clear about the specific thing that is wrong, properly stated above as: 1. appropriating university resources for use in a political campaign and 2. creating the appearance that the university itself is endorsing a candidate. The problem arises when a state university, concerned about those 2 things that are to be proscribed, bars things that seem similar, as if it's good to be extra careful. But these additional things are tremendously important political free speech. You don't include them just to be safe. You take extra care to exclude them with crisply drawn lines.
At Illinois, however, a memo went out to employees at all three campuses barring employees from wearing political buttons on campus, having bumper stickers on cars parked on campus, or attending political rallies on campus. Because many professors do wear buttons and attend rallies, the policy infuriated faculty members. The American Association of University Professors condemned the limits for “their chilling effect on speech, their interference with the educational process, and their implicit castigation of normal practice during political campaigns.” The rules were not enforced, but the university also declared them to be policy.
Now, universities, learn from the University of Illinois' embarrassment and rewrite those policies.
Here's the policy at the University of Wisconsin. Help me rewrite it.