University of Massachusetts officials on Monday quashed efforts by an Amherst campus chaplain to offer two college credits to any student willing to campaign in New Hampshire this fall for Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama.
Chaplain Kent Higgins told students in a Sept. 18 e-mail, “If you’re scared about the prospects for this election, you’re not alone. The most important way to make a difference in the outcome is to activate yourself. It would be just fine with (Republican candidate John) McCain if Obama supporters just think about helping, then sleep in and stay home between now and Election Day.”
Higgins added that an unnamed “sponsor” in the university’s history department would offer a two-credit independent study for students willing to canvass—identify supporters—or volunteer on behalf of the Democratic nominee.
University officials disavowed the effort after inquiries Monday by The Associated Press. They said it could run afoul of state ethics laws banning on-the-job political activity, as well as university policy.
“We do not engage in or sponsor partisan political activity,” said Audrey Alstadt, chairwoman of the history department. “We certainly do not give academic credit for participation in partisan politics.”
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