You are here: American University Provost Communications November 5, 2020

American University Office of the Provost

Memorandum November 5, 2020

AU Community
Peter Starr, Acting Provost
Monica C. Jackson, Interim Deputy Provost and Dean of Faculty
Post-Election Activity

As we await the outcome of the 2020 election, there are many strong feelings across the AU community and across the country. Students, faculty, and staff may well participate in civic engagement and protest activities in the coming days. We are writing to review University policies regarding political activity and to remind you of several resources that are available to our community.

AU’s undergraduate academic rules provide that “individual instructors may have different attendance requirements” for their courses.  (See Section 4.1.1 of the Undergraduate Academic Rules and Regulations). Students should always consult with their faculty instructors regarding the attendance requirements of specific courses; it is the faculty member’s decision as to whether to excuse absences or change course assignment expectations. Decisions should not be dependent on the nature of the issue being protested.  If a faculty member excuses absences for one form of participation in protest or civic engagement, they should excuse participation in any form of protest.  Students may not be penalized for excused absences but are required to make up all work missed by the end of the term as a result of the excused absence.  If the faculty member does not excuse the absence, the student may be penalized for the absence or for any work missed on account of the absence. Students will not be subject to disciplinary actions arising from their participation in peaceful and lawful protests, so long as their personal conduct is consistent with AU policy.

Faculty and staff are welcome to participate in protests in their personal capacity and on their personal time, provided that this activity does not occur during a time when they are scheduled to teach or perform other instructional duties, such as holding office hours.  The university’s Policy on Lobbying and Political Activities provides that AU community members are free to make personal expressions of political views in their individual capacity and on their personal time.  Employees should follow university policy for requesting annual leave related to such activity.  Annual leave may be approved by the employee’s supervisor provided that there is sufficient advance notice, that the requested leave would not interfere with the specific work needs of the unit, and that the requesting staff member has sufficient accrued leave to cover the time away.  Please also note the university’s Guidelines on Freedom of Expression and Dissent

As noted in President Burwell’s recent message, we have many election-related resources available to the AU community, including the student activism siteelection-related events and resources from our schools and faculty, and the new post-election resources, which also include counseling and other support resources.

Thank you for your commitment to civic discourse and to upholding AU’s tradition of vibrant participation in our democracy.