VISTA Policies

The information below is a synthesis of some of the important and relevant information as identified by the MCN VISTA program. For more comprehensive questions and concerns regarding policies and expectations for your year as a VISTA, please reference the VISTA Member Handbook, or contact the Minnesota State Office of the Corporation for National and Community Service. 


Personal, sick and emergency time tracking

All MCN VISTAs are required to create a log of each sick, personal, or emergency day that they use. VISTAs are allowed 10 sick days, 10 personal days, and up to 5 emergency days (bereavement or otherwise) for their year of service. There is no one right or wrong method of logging time off, but it is recommended that VISTAs record it electronically in a place that can be easily be accessed. Some methods of recording time off are:

Excel spreadsheet
Word document
Shared online document with supervisor (i.e. Google docs)
 
All VISTAs will be expected to report on the number of sick, personal, and emergency days used during each progress reporting period. You can read more about what kind of time off is permissible on the VISTA Campus.


Restricted activities

Employment restrictions:
VISTAs may hold outside employment while serving. However, VISTAs cannot work more than 20 hours a week in outside employment and must obtain approval from their supervisor. Outside employment may not conflict with a VISTA's service or service hours.

Religious Activities:
Though VISTAs are absolutely entitled to religious beliefs, they cannot participate in religious activities while on duty as a VISTA. Examples of activities you cannot do on VISTA duty include:

  • Provide religious instruction
  • Conduct worship services
  • Proselytize
  • Be admitted to a VISTA program based directly or indirectly on religious affiliation
  • Induce others to participate in religious activities

Education:
VISTAs are allowed to attend class(es) as long as their studies do not interfere with their VISTA responsibilities. VISTAs and supervisors will need to determine whether or not the class(es) will detract from their commitment to the VISTA project.

If they were enrolled in a class(es) before they became a VISTA, it is still important to discuss their study plan right away and make sure that the class(es) will not interfere with the project.

If classes interfere with VISTA responsibilities, they should discuss this with their supervisor. If they cannot come to a joint decision on how to make the VISTA project their focus, their supervisor may contact the state office.

Political:
The Hatch Act applies to VISTA members at all times during their service, including certain activities during their off-duty hours. They cannot engage  in any political activity (either partisan or nonpartisan) that would result in identifying the VISTA program with the activity. While on duty or perceived to be identified with the VISTA program, they cannot show partisanship or work to direct resources (financial or human) to influence elections or legislation (e.g., lobby), engage in voter registration, or provide voter transportation to the polls.

Specific examples of activities they CANNOT participate in as a VISTA, either on- or off-duty:

  • Soliciting or accepting from others monetary contributions for a partisan political candidate
  • Pro-labor or anti-labor organizing
  • Running for a partisan elected office

Participating in prohibited political activities during the VISTA term of service is cause for termination. Refer to the Chapter 14 of the Member Handbook for more information and a full list of prohibited activities.