Strengthen Democracy @UVM

Strengthen Democracy @UVM

0 have signed. Let’s get to 200!
At 200 signatures, this petition is more likely to be featured in recommendations!
Young Progressives of Vermont started this petition to University of Vermont

Currently UVM has a restrictive policy against political activity on campus -- restricting the rights of students to engage their neighbors about important issues like climate change & housing. Canvassing is the basis for any grassroots movement and its crucial to addressing the many challenges our generation faces.  

Young people at UVM are organizing and have written a SGA resolution that would reform this policy while focusing on the safety, engagement, nonpartisanship and 1st Amendment rights of students. We are proud that students of all political stripes have worked to craft the resolution in a collaborative, nonpartisan manner. 

Please support our efforts by signing & sharing this petition on social media!

Here is our resolution in full (w/ citations)! 

___________________________________________________________________________

Whereas, the Student Government Association of the University of Vermont is a non-partisan body and must hold itself accountable to that standard,

Whereas, it is the role of the Student Government Association to amplify student voices,

Whereas, the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America reads “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”[1],

Whereas, the Student Government Association of the University of Vermont supports the First Amendment rights of students and believes that engagement in our Democracy at all levels is vital to the health of our Democracy,

Whereas, other Universities have similar policies regarding political activity our community should also enact similar policies. [2]

Whereas, the UVM SGA recognizes that door to door canvassing on campus is protected political speech under the First Amendment of the United States Constitution[3],

Whereas, the SGA recognizes that postering in dorms and other areas on-campus is protected political speech under the First Amendment of the United States Constitution,

Whereas, the current UVM policies specific to political canvassing[4] may be perceived as unclear, not standardized, not streamlined under one university department, and contradictory,  

Whereas, door to door canvassing is proven to increase voter education and engagement,[5] [6] 

Be It Resolved, the SGA supports an updated, clear, concise, and streamlined policy regarding canvassing in residence halls at UVM,

Be It Further Resolved, the SGA supports door to door canvassing in any residence hall on UVM's campus. The SGA recommends that the UVM Administration work with the Chair of the Committee on Legislative and Community Affairs, student activists (including those who have helped craft this resolution), and the faculty union on campus to determine the best possible structure for allowing door to door canvassing. The Student Government association strongly recommends the following structure:

Only Students of the University of Vermont can engage in door-to-door canvassing in any dormitory on UVM’s campus.

Students engaged in door-to-door canvassing must show a student ID to the front desk of the dorm they are canvassing to prove they are in fact a student.

Student canvassers may not cross the threshold of any door they are knocking on. If a student asks a canvasser to enter their room, the canvasser must explain this rule and must invite the resident into the hall instead. 

Reslife will set up a system where students can swipe their ID’s to check into a dorm they are canvassing -- the time and student’s name will be recorded. This system will mimic the system students already use at front desks to check out movies, board games, and other leisure items. When students engaged in canvassing are finished they must swipe out using their student ID’s. 

Any campaign, group, club, or political movement engaged in canvassing in the dormitories will be expected to send notice of at least 1 week to reslife via email. Reslife will respond within 4 days, or 96 hours, of the initial email with a short list of the rules as laid out in this resolution. This list should lay out the expectations and procedures for canvassing in the dorms as laid out in this resolution. This informational survey will include consequences for not following the policy. Ending the survey will be an opportunity for those receiving the survey to mark and sign that they have read, understand, and agree to the established procedures, as detailed in this resolution.

It is incumbent upon the campaign, group, club, or political movement to train their canvassers on the rules regarding door to door canvassing. The campaign, group, club, or political movement are responsible and will be held accountable to the consequences laid out in this resolution.

Canvassing in the dorms can only happen between the hours of 4:00pm-7:00pm during the week (Monday-Friday). Canvassing in the dorms can only happen on the weekends between the hours and 1:00pm-4:00pm (Saturday-Sunday).

Any student can pick up a do not canvass door hanger or other material from the front desk of their dorms and no campaign, group, club, or political movement can knock on any door or suite that has one of these hangers displayed. If a campaign, group, club, or political movement does so, it will be considered a violation of the policy as laid out in this resolution.

UVM should report any canvasser engaged in door to door canvassing who is not a student to the University police.

Only those students and  individuals living on campus in the dorms can canvass the dorms.

Be It Further Resolved, the SGA of the University of Vermont supports the implementation of the following consequences for breaking this updated policy through both University Relations and Reslife:  

 1st offence: Reslife will inform the campaign, group, club, or political movement of the violation. Proof of the violation and a report of the incident must be provided to the campaign, group, club, or political movement. The campaign, group, club, or political movement must respond within 2 weeks, or 14 days, of receiving the incident report. The response of the campaign, group, club, or political movement must include concrete actions they will take to ensure a future violation by their members, or volunteers will not happen in the future.

2nd offence: Reslife will inform the campaign, group, club, or political movement of the violation. Proof of the violation and a report of the incident must be provided to the campaign, group, club, or political movement. The campaign, group, club, or political movement must respond within 2 weeks, or 14 days, of receiving the incident report. The campaign, group, club, or political movement will be expected to cease all canvassing activity in the dormitories on campus, regardless of the status of their volunteers or members, as students. UVM should report incidents of violation after the second offense to campus police.

Be It Further Resolved, posters, handouts, and other campaign materials can be left at dorm rooms  and under the door if no ones is home. Only those campaigns, groups, clubs, and political movements who have undergone the process of being approved to canvass as laid out in the suggested procedures in this resolution may leave campaign materials under the doors of students living on campus.

Campaigns, groups, clubs, or political movements should be expected to clean up their signs and other materials following an election or other conclusion to their cause. This is the responsibility of a campaign, group, club, or political movement, not the responsibility of UVM community members.

Be It Further Resolved, the Student Government Association supports voter registration drives in residence halls through use of space within the hallways and common areas of residence halls,  

Be It Further Resolved, the Student Government Association will work with the University of Vermont to reform the current postering policy as implemented by University Relations and Reslife and reach a compromise that ensures students are encouraged, not discouraged, from informing students about issues, events, campaigns, and other important topics. When discussing this topic with the University, the Student Government Association recommends the following change is included in the reforms:

Signs and posters should never be torn down by fellow students who may disagree with them. Postering is and should be protected political speech on campus under the first amendment.

The appropriate removal of posters, locations that posters may be placed on campus and in dorms, and other aspects of policies should be reviewed while in discussions with the University of Vermont.

Unless posters are a safety hazard the University and the UVM community should respect the advocacy and involvement of UVM students.

Be It Further Resolved, given the work, expertise in this area, and roots among the student body of UVM, the Chair of the Committee on Legislative and Community Affairs, will head a committee made up of them self, the student that spearheaded this resolution (JF Carter Neubieser), a member of the UVM faculty union (if the union is interested), and any other pertinent parties to work with the UVM administration to implement this SGA resolution.

Be It Further Resolved, upon implementation of this policy change, COLCA will write into its constitution that it will continue to work with Reslife, University Relations, and student activists to ensure that this policy is upheld, amended as necessary, and continues to allow politically involved students to engage in safe campaigning processes.

Be It Further Resolved, the SGA should consider forming a special committee specifically on the safety of all students in the UVM community. This special committee should be tasked, at least in part, with making recommendations

[1] https://www.law.cornell.edu/constitution/first_amendment
[2] Yale University Policy on Political campaigns & causes: file:///Users/CarterNeubieser/Desktop/Yale%20Guidelines%20for%20Students%20on%20Political%20Campaign%20Activity.html
[3] Court Cases Article: https://medium.com/@ACLUPA/dear-municipal-officials-the-first-amendment-protects-door-to-door-canvassers-a609dfedbf57
[4] Reslife: https://www.uvm.edu/reslife/policies  University Relations:  https://www.uvm.edu/sites/default/files/media/01.22.15_Solicitation_Policy.pdf
[5] Green, Donald P., Alan S. Gerber, and David W. Nickerson. "Getting Out the Vote in Local Elections: Results from Six Door-to-Door Canvassing Experiments." The Journal of Politics 65.4 (2003): 1083-096.
[6] Kawashima-Ginsberg, Kei, Peter Levine, and Robert H Wicks. "Policy Effects on Informed Political Engagement." American Behavioral Scientist 58.5 (2014): 665-88.

0 have signed. Let’s get to 200!
At 200 signatures, this petition is more likely to be featured in recommendations!