--> It isn't too late to send us a report on what
your 2003 graduation, and to send an email
contact for the 2003-2004 school year. Thanks!
Finally, let us briefly report that last year
ended well. Likely 120-130 schools were involved in
the Pledge at some level, and we now have schools in
Canada, France, Singapore, Australia, and maybe the
Philippines participating (and some high schools and
graduate school programs). Please send the below
"advertising" piece to folks you know at other
schools and encourage them to join and to contact
us. We "spread the Pledge" in part through the great
media attention we receive (for example, USA Today,
Christian Science Monitor, and France's Le Monde
last year). But word of mouth, friend to friend,
still works best.
That's enough for now. Keep in touch, and good
luck for the year.
Neil Wollman, National Coordinator
Graduation Pledge Alliance
MC Box 135
North Manchester, IN 46962
*UBC uses the term "Sustainability Pledge" to
describe their efforts. In most all cases the term
"Graduation Pledge," or some slight modification, is
used by Pledge schools. (A few schools have changed
the words of the Pledge statement a bit to fit their
needs, which is fine with us.) If you have used or
are considering using a different name for your
effort, we prefer it contains the words "Graduation
Pledge" somewhere in it.
Steps for Building Support for and Participation
in the Pledge Campaign
"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."
At small schools in which high-level
administrators can be brought on board quickly, it
may be possible to start the pledge the first year
it is attempted--and at the "whole-school" level. In
most cases, however, things will move more slowly,
going from having smaller groups being involved and
informally, to when the Pledge, hopefully, becomes
"institutionalized" and fully a part of the school
officially as part of commencement and otherwise.
Experiences at various schools suggest certain steps
that will make it more likely that the school, as
whole, will formally adopt the
1. IF ONLY ONE PERSON IS RESPONSIBLE FOR MOST OR
ALL OF THE WORK, THE WHOLE PROJECT MAY COME TO A
HALT IF S/HE FALTERS. While a highly motivated
leader may be helpful in making the Pledge happen, a
committee allows work to be distributed and enables
people to pick up the slack when different members
of the group have other obligations.
2. A PERMANENT GROUP IS BEST (campus
organization, graduation pledge committee, official
college administrative or student office) that makes
sure the Pledge happens each year, as individual
students who work on the Pledge will graduate. Find
what makes most sense for your school and
circumstances. Our ideal is the Pledge as 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
in all but a few due to lack of
3. GET SOPHOMORES/JUNIORS/FACULTY INVOLVED TOO,
as it helps insure that the Pledge continues. It
also means that those involved in subsequent years
aren't reinventing the wheel and can try to
institutionalize the Pledge a bit more 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 that have sway over
the commencement activities to come on board. If
that doesn't happen the first year, it may in the
future if there is enough grassroots support on
5. GET CAMPUS GROUPS TO ENDORSE, participate, and
get out word to their
constituencies: (a) student groups--e.g., social
service, community service, environmental, peace,
human rights; (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 Government.
Another approach is to get senior class officers or
reps involved, as they often have good channels of
communication with other seniors.
6. GET AS MUCH PUBLICITY AS YOU CAN both on and
off campus (local newspapers and TV often take an
interest), as this will get people's attention and
more students will get involved and participate. 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 CAMPUS regarding
specific actions tied to the Pledge. Here are some
A. GET SOME TYPE OF RECOGNITION/PUBLICITY AT THE
COMMENCEMENT CEREMONY ITSELF.
§ Have those taking the Pledge wear green
ribbons, as might supportive faculty. This has
become standard at many participating schools.
§ Get one of the speakers to mention the Pledge
at the ceremony.
§ Have the Pledge printed in the commencement
§ 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 has a Pledge
taken by all first-year students which incorporates
the basic Pledge ideas, but goes into other areas as
well. Other possibilities include discussion in
classes, introduction in first-year orientation, and
Pledge-related service projects.
C. DIFFERENT SCHOOLS SIGN UP PEOPLE DIFFERENTLY.
· At Manchester, we give cards and diplomas
(stating the Pledge) to participants well before
graduation day. Such cards have become standard at
many schools (see webpage 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
(their own website, mailing lists, etc.).
· Some do tabling during the spring term. IF YOU
NEED TO GET SIGN-UPS QUICKLY, DO TABLING. And if you
can, give out pledge cards, green ribbons, and some
materials taken form the nation Graduation Pledge
· 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 ().
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 seniors" 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
E. CONSIDER WAYS TO REMIND AND SUPPORT PLEDGE
SIGNERS AFTER THEY GRADUATE (articles or blurbs in
alumni publications and materials, a listserve 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.) And see a
piece on the webpage on 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."
GRADUATION PLEDGE ALLIANCE
Humboldt State University (California) initiated
the Graduation Pledge of Social and Environmental
Responsibility. It states, "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." Students define what being "responsible"
means to themselves. Students at well over a hundred
colleges and universities have used the pledge at
some level. The schools involved include small
liberal arts colleges (Whitman and Skidmore); large
state universities (Oregon and Wisconsin), and large
private research universities (Harvard and
Stanford).. This now includes some schools overseas,
graduate and professional schools, and high schools.
Graduates who voluntarily signed the pledge have
turned down jobs they did not feel morally
comfortable with and have worked to make changes
once on the job. For example, they have promoted
recycling at their organization, removed racist
language from a training manual, worked for gender
parity in high school athletics, and helped to
convince an employer to refuse a chemical
Manchester College now coordinates the campaign
effort, which has taken different forms at different
institutions. At Manchester, it is a community-wide
event involving students, faculty, and staff.
Typically, 50 percent of students sign and keep a
wallet-size card stating the pledge, while students
and supportive faculty wear green ribbons at
commencement and the pledge is printed in the formal
commencement program. Depending upon the school, it
might take several years to reach this level of
institutionalization. If one can just get a few
groups/departments involved, and get some media
attention on (and off) campus, it will get others
interested and build for the future. The project has
been covered in newspapers around the country (e.g.,
USA Today, Chicago Tribune, Washington Post, and
Boston Globe), as well as being covered in magazines
(e.g., Business Week), national radio networks (for
instance, ABC), and local T.V.
stations (like in Ft. Wayne, IN).
The pledge helps educate and motivate one to
contribute to a better world.
Think of the impact if even a significant
minority of the one million college graduates each
year signed and carried out the Pledge.
PLEASE KEEP US INFORMED OF ANY PLEDGE EFFORTS YOU
UNDERTAKE, AS WE TRY TO MONITOR WHAT HAPPENS AND
PROVIDE PERIODIC UPDATES ON THE NATIONAL EFFORT.
Contact NJWollman@Manchester.edu for
information/questions/comments, or write GPA, MC Box
135, Manchester College, 604 E. College Ave., North
Manchester, IN 46962. The Campaign also has a
web site, at