GPA Updates Log

Graduation Pledge Alliance - 2nd Update for 2003-2004

Hello Graduation Pledge organizers:

 I. Request for Committee Lists and Timelines

 While we at Pledge campaign headquarters have freely given advice, we have seldom tried to direct how individual organizers structure their committees or carry out the Pledge at their schools. We feel that such flexibility encourages schools to join the Pledge effort. However, one negative consequence has been a lack of formal organization and accountability in some Pledge efforts which, in our experience, decreases the likelihood of success. Hence, our Advisory Board has asked me to announce the following:

 We strongly suggest that this fall term you send us a list of members of your Graduation Pledge committee (though we will not add additional names to the listserve for updates, unless requested to so so). There could be a separate GPA organization, a committee within some ongoing larger campus organization, or otherwise. This then assures that there is, indeed, a group working on the project, which makes the effort stronger and more enduring. And stability is also increased if you can align your group with an established campus office or organization (alumni affairs, career services, student life/activities, or a campus center or academic department)m.

 Secondly, we also strongly suggest that you send us by January a timeline of your tentative plans for the year. This means that even if you organize no activities for the fall, you have at least done all your basic planning and can move ahead later in an orderly and timely fashion. The basic “Steps for a Campaign” (see below) has many possibilities.

 We do realize that due to various factors, there will be different levels of involvement at different schools. But at a minimum, we suggest that in addition to signing up seniors you:

1) do something during/surrounding graduation (the Pledge as a part of the graduation ceremony, receiving of Pledge cards and wearing of green ribbons, a recognition event, etc.);  

2) hold at least one Pledge event otherwise during the spring term (a celebration of pledge signers, a speaker on the Pledge and social responsibility in employment, an alternative graduation, etc.); and

3) publicize the Pledge both on and off campus (signs, bulletin boards, school paper and local media, press conference, e.g.). By sometime early next term we hope to have on our website both downloadable Pledge brochures and posters to aid with publicity.

 We feel that doing the above will increase accountability for all concerned, both strengthening your program and keeping us better informed here. There are a number of ways that our having this information can help the overall Pledge effort.

 II. Update on the Web Site and Request for Photos

 We have recently added a few things to the web site and, more importantly, rearranged material. Materials are now separated into two primary sections. One is geared toward those organizing a Pledge effort, while the other is for those actually carrying out the Pledge. On another web issue, we would like to add some photos of Pledge activities besides those at the sponsoring college. We have seen some on local Pledge websites and we welcome your submissions. We now have up a video of the statement about the Pledge given by the president of our school, Manchester College, at the graduation ceremony. It can serve as an example for elsewhere.

III. Finally, three brief ideas:

 n      We would like to form a national speaker’s bureau of folks who can talk on issues of social responsibility in employment. If you have suggestions, please let us know – along with specific topic areas, contact info, etc.

n      In order to further our connections with you, during January and February we hope to call as many local organizers as we can. Thus getting the phone numbers of contacts is indeed helpful.

n      THANKS SO MUCH for the financial contributions to the national effort received so farWe can always use more. Whatever you can spare, large or small, is appreciated. Make your check out to Manchester College and in the memo space at the bottom, write "for Neil Wollman - Graduation Pledge Alliance." Contributions are tax-deductible.




Neil Wollman, National Coordinator

Graduation Pledge Alliance

MC Box 135

Manchester College

North Manchester, IN 46962

(260) 982-5346




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 Pledge:

1.         THOUGH IT MAY TAKE ONE PERSON TO BE THE DRIVING FORCE FOR A SUCCESSFUL EFFORT, IF THERE IS ONLY ONE PERSON DOING MOST OR ALL OF THE WORK, THE WHOLE PROJECT MAY COME TO A HALT IF THAT PERSON FALTERS. 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.         IT IS BEST IF THERE IS ONE CONTINUING GROUP (campus organization, graduation pledge committee, official college administrative or student office) that makes sure the Pledge happens each year. Find what makes most sense for your school and circumstances.

3.         GET SOPHOMORES/JUNIORS/FACULTY 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 which have sway over the commencement activities to come on board. 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 do it each year, without a group of seniors having to get excited about it and starting fresh each year. 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 in all but a couple because of lack of institutionalization.

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 all seniors.

6.         GET AS MUCH PUBLICITY AS YOU CAN media and otherwise 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 examples:


§   Have those taking the Pledge wear green ribbons, as might supportive faculty.  Wearing such ribbons has become standard at many participating schools.

§   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 only 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).


·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 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 (their own website, mailing lists, etc.).

·Some have done tabling during the spring term. AS A MATTER OF FACT, IF YOU HAVE NO OTHER WAY AND NEED TO QUICKLY GET SIGN-UPS, DO TABLING. And if you can, give out pledge cards, green ribbons, and some materials taken form the nation Graduation Pledge web site.

·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).


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 above.

E.         CONSIDER WAYS OF REMINDING AND SUPPORTING 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.)  And see a piece on the web page 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."