Despite policy, grad students to hold rally in support of Obama

By Patrick Wade

Graduate student employees are organizing a political rally supporting Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama on the Quad Thursday afternoon.

Dan Colson, an English teaching assistant and the organizer of the event, said that the rally, scheduled for 2 p.m., is a politically-based event that “happens to be in violation” of the University ethics policy.

Colson also said some of the graduate students intend to “self-report” their violations to University administration Friday afternoon, adding that some other faculty members have already been engaging in reporting their own violations.

The policy stirred debate among some employees last week when they were reminded of it as part of a University memo.

The University ethics policy states that employees, while in a job-related context, cannot show political preference to candidates or political parties by participating in activities such as attending rallies, wearing T-shirts or buttons and registering voters at party-specific booths.

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University spokesman Tom Hardy said on Sept. 25 that the newsletter was not stating University policy, but rather it was reiterating for employees the State Officials and Employers Ethics Act which provides a code for ethical conduct for state employees while on the job.

Colson said he and other English graduate student employees have planned to attend Thursday’s rally in support of Obama, and he will invite others to attend at the graduate student union’s meeting Wednesday evening.

He said attendance at the rally depends on how many people are apt to support Obama and violate the policy at the same time.