College limits political activity

Graphic by Penelope Taylor ’20

Graphic by Penelope Taylor ’20


As midterm elections approach, some Mount Holyoke students are eager to endorse their favorite candidates. This is evident from social media posts, decorations and in conversations, both academic and personal, around campus. Recently, a lawn sign endorsing a specific candidate, which was later removed, was placed outside South Rockefeller Hall.

Vice President of Student Life and Dean of Students Marcella Runell Hall sent the Mount Holyoke student body an email reiterating the College’s policy on political activities on campus, which has been in place since September 2012. The set of rules includes prohibitions on holding fundraisers for political candidates on non-residential college property, providing a candidate for public office an opportunity to speak on campus or using College-owned facilities (unless authorized by the College President), use of College photocopiers or fax machines for the reproduction of campaign literature or use of the Mount Holyoke College letterhead, logo or seal on materials intended for partisan political purposes.

“We have the policy because of our non-profit status. I would assume most colleges and other non-profits have similar policies and have had policies like this for quite some time,” said Hall.

When asked about the timing of the email reminder, Hall said, “The Dean of Students’ office generally likes to remind students of relevant policies, since there may be new students who aren’t aware. This one was particularly timely given that it is election season.” Hall did not reference any specific instances of political activity on campus.

For the most part, students have been supportive of this policy. President of the Mount Holyoke College Democrats Lily James ’21 believes that the policy is fair.

“In general, I think it’s perfectly reasonable, and it encourages political participation, which is fantastic. It has not interfered with any events that we have put on, but we also work to be as inclusive as possible,” said James.

Hall’s email does encourage students to be involved in the election process without breaking the College’s rule. The email stated, “You should register to vote if you are eligible, and encourage others to vote and engage in the political process and dialogue.”

The email provided information about the deadline to register to vote in Massachusetts and where to vote for those registered in South Hadley, MA — South Hadley High School, 153 Newton Street. Community members can check their registration status or request an absentee ballot during the College Democrats’ tabling hours on Monday and Thursday evenings in the lobby of the Dining Commons.