GPA Updates Log

Graduation Pledge Alliance - 2nd Update for 2004-2005

Hello GPA organizers:


I trust that your Pledge organizing is off to a good start this fall. Below you will find a request for committee lists and timelines, and our “Steps” piece that can help guide your efforts.


But first, three brief points:

** See at the end of this message a piece that a supportive group asked us to post.

** Consider tying in your effort with an environmental group on campus--particularly a school sustainability program, environmental studies department, or some other official administrative office (it can really boost your credibility and stability over the years).

** Please send your phone number if you haven’t yet (and please identify your school if it is not obvious from your email address). This will enable us to contact you sometime to hear about your progress and setbacks, and perhaps lend some advice.


Good luck in your efforts,




Neil J. Wollman, Coordinator

The Graduation Pledge Alliance

MC Box 135

Manchester College

North Manchester, IN  46962



Request for Committee Lists and Timelines


While we at Pledge campaign headquarters freely give advice, we seldom try 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:


First, we strongly suggest that this fall term you send us a list of members of your Graduation Pledge committee. (We will not add additional names to the email list for updates, unless requested to do so). There could be a separate GPA organization, a committee within some 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; though, an environmental group might be particularly helpful, as noted above).


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 completed at least 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; utilize the 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.




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 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 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 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, 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, 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.

●   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, we give out 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. 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).


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 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."




Wanted: 25,000 business leaders to change the world. Sign the Ethical Business Pledge to run your business with highest commitment to ethical principles, long-term customer relationships, treating all stakeholders fairly, and support for the "triple bottom line" of environmental, social, and financial responsibility. Please help make the next Enron impossible--sign (and spread) the Pledge at <>