UAA faculty donates money to political campaigns

This election year, we have seen the political support of candidates in a variety of ways. From the usual bumper stickers, signs and campaign T-shirts to the not-so-usual requests for the “Palin up-do”, it seems that supporting a candidate has been taken to an entirely new level.

But although we see and hear political endorsements on a daily basis from our families, friends, peers and even strangers, are we also getting it from the one place that should be neutral- our classrooms?

An interesting look at which professors have made monetary contributions to a political candidate may raise questions of how their political beliefs might subtly influence the “unbiased” education students are receiving.

The Huffington Post, which focuses on news and opinion, has a web site that discloses information about campaign donors throughout the country. A quick and easy search by either state, zip code, occupation, name, or employer, can give anybody access to who donated what and to which campaign.

Not only does the web site include the donor’s full name, occupation, political party and dollar amount of the donation, but it also lists their complete physical address along with a detailed map. The question that comes to mind is how this information is obtained and whether the donors themselves are aware of this disclosure.

A search conducted by entering “University of Alaska Anchorage” in the “employer” box gives results of seven professors at UAA who have made a monetary contribution to the presidential candidate of their liking. The total dollar amount of donations from the university is currently at $6,130, with $1,000 toward the Republicans and $5,130 to the Democrats.

Out of the total number of professors employed at UAA, seven individuals is not a large enough sample to determine how the majority of our instructors feel about each candidate.

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The university as a whole may not contribute to a candidate’s campaign but individuals have every right to do so, no matter their authority or position. However, there is a dollar limit to how much one person may donate.

According to Chris Ellingson, the Assistant Director of the Alaska Public Offices Commission (APOC), contributions from the state candidates to federal candidates have different limits.

“The limit is $500 for state candidates and applies to all individuals, per calendar year,” Ellingson said.

The Alaska Campaign Disclosure Laws can be found on the APOC’s web site, Sec. 15.13.065. Contributions explain in detail who is eligible to give donations.

Although The Huffington Post web site doesn’t list donations for state campaigns, it’s interesting to see the dollar amounts that presidential candidates receive from their supporters here in Alaska. And even though it’s tough to determine whether UAA professors might be crossing the line when it comes to neutrality, it does raise some eyebrows and gives us all a little something to think about.

Interested in checking out who’s donating what? Visit http://fundrace.huffingtonpost.com/.