At small schools in which high-level administrators can be
brought on board quickly, it may be possible to start the
pledge at the whole-school level the first year it is
attempted. In most cases, however, things will move more
slowly, from the Pledge being run by smaller and less formal
groups to, hopefully, becoming institutionalized on campus
and an official part of commencement. Experiences at various
schools suggest certain steps that will make it more likely
that your school will formally adopt the Pledge:
1. If only one person is responsible for most or all of
the work, then the whole project may come to a halt if that
Even though one person may be the
driving force for a successful effort, a committee is far
better and allows work to be distributed, as well as
allowing different people to pick up the slack depending on
the current situation for different members of the group.
2. Establishing a continuing group is best
organization, graduation pledge committee, official college
administrative or student office) to make sure the Pledge
happens each year. Find what makes most sense for your
school and circumstances.
3. Get sophomores/juniors/faculty/administrators involved
too, as it helps ensure future work on the project.
also means that each year those involved before know past
history and can try to take institutionalization a step
further each year. One school gets non-seniors on campus to
sign up, as well, in a show of support; while another school
allows alumni to sign the pledge.
4. Get administrative offices on board
that have sway
over the commencement activities. If that doesn't happen the
first year, it likely will in the future if there is enough
grassroots support of the type listed above. Unless you can
guarantee that the Pledge will "automatically" happen every
year, it is best if the project can be housed in some
official program/office/council so it is assumed that
someone will take charge each year, without a group of
seniors having to start from scratch. Our personal hope
always is that it is a community effort, with students,
staff, and faculty involved in planning. Earlier in its
history, the Pledge was on a number of campuses, but
disappeared from most because it wasnâ€™t institutionalized.
5. Get campus groups to endorse, participate, and get out
to their constituencies. Include (a) student
groups-- e.g., social service (like a social work club),
community service (including service learning),
environmental, peace, human rights, and political (say
College Republicans or Democrats); (b)
programs/departments/schools within the university--social
work,, sociology, environmental studies, women's studies--
or any socially concerned active ones on campus; and (c)
offices/councils/centers--career services, community
services, women's centers. Student governments have led the
way at several schools. Another approach is to get senior
class officers or reps involved, as they often have good
channels of communication with all seniors.
6. Get as much publicity as you can
, both on and off
campus (local newspapers and TV often take an interest).
This will get people's attention and lead to more student
participation. It will also help spread the idea to the
general public and to other schools. There could be posters,
displays in glass cases, materials at the alumni office,
events at homecoming, etc.
7. Decide what is best for your own campus
specific actions tied to the Pledge. Here are some examples:
A. Get some type of recognition/publicity at the
commencement ceremony itself.
● Have those taking the Pledge wear green ribbons, as might
supportive faculty. Wearing such ribbons has become standard
at many participating schools. At a few schools, different
color ribbons are used.
● Get one of the speakers to discuss/ note the Pledge at the
● Have the Pledge printed in the commencement program.
● Have posters/brochures describing the Pledge near the
B. Different schools recognize or celebrate the pledge in
different ways. Be it a reception for Pledge signers, a
speech by a faculty member, or otherwise, think of good ways
to make the Pledge a fuller experience for participants. At
least one school has made attending a seminar relevant to
socially responsible employment a prerequisite to signing
the pledge; this might decrease participation, but increase
commitment. Another possibility is to make such a seminar
strongly recommended. One school has instituted an
"Alternative Graduation" ceremony to celebrate/recognize the
Pledge. Another school has a Pledge taken by all first-year
students which incorporates the basic Pledge ideas, but goes
into other areas as well. Think of other ways to
institutionalize the Pledge at your schools - thinking of
that as a long-term project (discussion in classes,
introduction in first-year orientation, Pledge-related
service projects, and so on).
C. Different schools sign up people differently.
· At Manchester, we give out cards and certificates (stating
the Pledge) to participants well before graduation day. Such
cards have become standard at many schools (see web page for
· Another school has participants sign a poster, which is on
· Another has people sign a sheet after they have gone
across the stage and gotten their diploma.
· Some schools sign up pledgers electronically (using their
own local website or mailing lists).
SOME HAVE DONE TABLING DURING THE SPRING TERM. IF YOU HAVE
NO OTHER WAY AND NEED TO QUICKLY GET SIGN-UPS, DO TABLING.
AND GIVE OUT PLEDGE CARDS, GREEN RIBBONS (OR SOME
ALTERNATIVE COLOR) , AND SOME MATERIALS DOWNLOADED FROM THE
NATIONAL GRADUATION PLEDGE WEB SITE. AND GET OUT PUBLICITY
AHEAD OF TIME.
· See another piece on the website called “Building
Consciousness Raising Around the Pledge.” It has various
further ideas on institutionalizing the pledge (e.g., campus
forums and bulletin board displays).
D. There is much information available for pledge signers at
the web site for the pledge. (http://www.graduationpledge.org
For example, there is information/links to socially
responsible jobs, listings of questions one might ask a
potential employer, links to information on influencing
one's employer to be more socially and environmentally
responsible. There is a "one page handout for graduating
" that gives some of theses ideas, but, importantly,
gives the opening page website address for the Pledge so
that signers can get full details on such concerns. Consider
getting at least that page to all Pledge signers. Lead
people to the web site or distribute such information to all
graduates, Pledge signers, Career Services office, etc.
Seriously consider listing the Pledge web page address - and
what is available there - on the back of Pledge cards noted
in 7C above.
E. Consider ways to remind and support pledge signers after
they graduate (articles or blurbs in alumni publications and
materials, a listserv of signers, a GPA newsletter, a
presence at any alumni events on campus or around the
country, formation of a pledge committee of ten or more
alumni who work to publicize and support previous signers.)
See the piece on our web page about getting your alumni and
career services offices involved in the effort. We are
currently working on a new web site for Pledge signers to
help them in carrying out their commitment (www.E-xplore.org).
Check to see if it is in operation yet.
F. A few schools have modified the pledge wording to fit
their own needs. The Pledge wording is "I pledge to explore
and take into account the social and environmental
consequences of any job I consider and will try to improve
these aspects of any organizations for which I work."