Contact GPA Headquarters when starting a campaign on your campus.
Read the Guidelines, Expectations and Tips for GPA Chapters, a document providing information about how to have a successful campaign from the start.
Moreover, 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 person falters. 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 (campus 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. It 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 wasn’t institutionalized.
5. Get campus groups to endorse, participate, and get out word 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 regarding 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 ceremony.
- Have the Pledge printed in the commencement program.
- Have posters/brochures describing the Pledge near the commencement festivities.
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 College, they 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 sample cards).
- Another school has participants sign a poster, which is on display.
- 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. In addition, give out pledge cards, green ribbons (or some alternative color), and some materials downloaded from the Materials and Resources section of our website.
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. Lead people to the website or distribute such information to all graduates, Pledge signers, Career Services office, etc. Seriously consider listing the Pledge webpage 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.
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.”