GPA Updates Log

Graduation Pledge Alliance - 4th Update for 2003-2004
 
Dear Graduation Pledge organizers:
Still need names and timelines...Thanks to those of you who have sent the names of those on your Pledge committee. Please do send this if you haven't--we are still missing quite a few. Include email addresses if they should receive these updates. Also, I still have not received any time lines for Spring Pledge activities, which we would like by early February. It helps keep you on track and helps keep us informed.

Make use of the web site... We hope that all organizers have checked what is available at the web site, www.graduationpledge.org. We have received many favorable comments on the value of web site for organizing purposes. The two major sections are "Conducting a Graduation Pledge Effort at Your School" and "Information For Pledge Signers on Carrying Out the Pledge."

- Below is one such piece that might be helpful: a sample letter that is sent to all seniors at my school which formally introduces the project to them (though most students have heard of it previously in some way). One important item in the sample letter is the statement, "Please do not sign the pledge card or wear a green ribbon on graduation day unless you intend to fulfill the commitment." It's possible that some seniors will sign up or wear ribbons for reasons other than a commitment to the spirit of the Pledge (it happens!). We suggest that in your materials/conversations, you remind graduates not to participate unless they intend to fulfill their commitment.

- One very new addition to the site is a downloadable version of the basic campaign brochure that describes the project. You can find it on the opening page, to the left. It is a good publicity piece for events and some schools distribute them (or their own version) to seniors.

Thoughts from Melissa Everett... See also below a letter from Melissa, to whom some of you have spoken, which contains some good ideas she has culled so far from her conversations with you. She is Executive Director of the Sustainable Careers Institute and is phoning organizers to chat about their efforts.

Sign up for the GradPledge Listserv... if you are not yet on it. It is a forum for pledge organizers to share good ideas and ask questions of each other. The traffic is light, and you automatically receive the digest version, so it's never more than one message per day. Let us know if you are interested.

Connect with Earth Day... Think about hosting a public event, beyond what you do at graduation, surrounding Earth Day (April 22). Last year we instituted the "Graduation Pledge Alliance Day of Action and Awareness" and many folks around the country became involved. While the Pledge deals with more than just environmental responsibility, Earth Day worked well as a rallying point because of its campus visibility. There are various possibilities: your activities could focus just on the Pledge, or on the broader concern of social and environmental responsibility in the workplace, with the Pledge a component of that. Some examples:

- a day for Pledge sign-ups
- a relevant speech/workshop/discussion
- getting faculty to discuss the Pledge in their classes
- a display in a prominent place--perhaps where Earth Day activities are already going on
- a reception or other event for Pledge signers
- a day of service--or something more action-oriented
Try to get good campus publicity and local media coverage. If there is no Earth Day celebration on your campus, you may need to publicize Earth Day itself. Publicity and media should help raise consciousness on responsibility issues, make the Pledge more accepted on campus, and maybe lead to more sign-ups and volunteers to help with organizing.

Please do give us pre- or post-event reports. It keeps us informed and we can use such info in our national media work. And feedback/suggestions are appreciated regarding the "Graduation Pledge Alliance Day of Action and Awareness."

Good luck,

Neil

Neil Wollman, National Coordinator
Graduation Pledge Alliance
MC Box 135
Manchester College
North Manchester, IN 46962
(260) 982-5346
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The Pledge of Social and Environmental Responsibility

To: The Graduating Class of 2003:

 

ENDORSERS
A Cappella Choir 
Accounting Club 
Alpha Phi Omega 
Aurora 
BACCHUS 
Campus Ministry
.....Board 
Choral Society 
East Hall Council 
Environmental Action
.....Group 
Fellowship of Christian
.....Athletes 
Graver Hall Council 
Habitat for Humanity 
Holman Hall Council 
Hispanic Undoes 
Inter-Collegiate
.....Ministry 
Kenapocomoco
.....Coalition 
Manchester Activities
.....Council 
Manchester College

.....Faculty 
MC International
.....Assoc. 
Manchester Forensics
.....Club 
Manchester Singers 
Modern Language
.....Club 
Oak Leaves 
Oakwood Hall Council
Peace Studies
..... Institute 
Schwalm Hall Council 
Simply Brethren 
Spartanettes 
Staff Association 
Student Alumni
.....Council 
Student Education
.....Association 
Women's Spirituality
.....Circles

Students at many colleges and universities nationwide have recognized the Graduation Pledge of Social and Environmental Responsibility. It reads: 

"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.

Whether you take the pledge is voluntary. It allows people to determine for themselves what they consider to be environmentally and socially responsible. 

Different universities have had different levels of official administrative and faculty participation in supporting the pledge and in having recognition of the pledge be an official part of the graduation ceremony. For example, at Humboldt State University tables have been placed near the graduation stage for students to voluntarily sign the pledge. 

Manchester College started supporting the pledge in 1988, a year after its inception at Humboldt State University. In 1996 Manchester became the headquarters for the Graduation Pledge Alliance (GPA), the national pledge effort, which further emphasizes Manchester's leadership. Over the years, typically 50 percent of students have worn green ribbons at commencement in recognition of the pledge. To our knowledge, Manchester was the first to wear ribbons, and now most other colleges and universities do also. In addition, a note in the program describes the pledge and explains why students, faculty, and staff are wearing the ribbons. For those who wish to participate, decorative certificates will be available (to keep) at the upper union desk during the week of finals, if not before. Participants should also sign and keep the small wallet card received with this mailing, to serve as a reminder of their commitment. There is no need to hand any of the materials back.

We have recognized that the pledge can be supported by anyone who wants to be intentional about the responsibility of his or her employment. It is our hope that your support of the pledge will contribute to the cooperative effort to build responsible citizenship for a sustainable world. The pledge is a serious commitment and MC pledge signers have taken actions such as turning down jobs they did not feel ethically comfortable with (and letting their potential employers know why); promoting environmentally friendly efforts while on the job; or in one case, an alumna talked with her employer and a potential chemical weapons contract was not accepted.

Please do not sign the pledge card or wear a green ribbon on graduation day unless you intend to fulfill the commitment.

Volunteers will be present prior to morning baccalaureate and afternoon commencement to hand out green ribbons and pins to those graduates who endorse the pledge, as well as to supportive faculty members. Your wearing a ribbon will make a public statement of your intent to consider the well-being of the world and its inhabitants both when you consider job possibilities and after you are on the job.  

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Dear Pledge coordinators and community: 
 
I have talked with some of you in the course of reaching out to help campus
Pledge campaigns hit their stride and really make a difference this year.
There is a lot of skill, energy and commitment out there! 
 
I wanted to share a few thoughts about successful Pledge organizing that
have become clear so far. 
 
1. It's essential to make the outreach personal -- flyers alone do not
create changes of heart or commitment. Peer to peer outreach -- better
known as talking to your friends -- is what creates a movement. 
 
2. In many cases, the initial proposal to the administration, to integrate
the Pledge into commencement, is not fully accepted. It can be useful to
find other ways to work with senior administration, that they view as
lower-risk. Bring in an inspiring speaker on socially responsible careers
and ask your president or provost to do the welcoming remarks. Create an
annual award for an alum who embodies socially responsible career values,
and invite a senior administrator to present the award. Create a campus
advisory group and get some of those folks, as well as faculty, onto it. 
 
3. Think of this as much more than a stance for the already committed
activist community. Hunger for ethical employers is widespread, and social
responsibility issues are finding their way into business classes. One
faculty advisor to a Pledge campaign belatedly realized that this topic was
a perfect match for the business ethics class she ALREADY teaches. Another
student leader realized that she could involve her classmates in the PUBLIC
RELATIONS program in creating outreach strategies. Look for opportunities
under your nose. 
 
4. The Pledge is not just a graduation statement - it's a device for
sparking widespread questioning and exploration of what your life is worth
and what kinds of work situations fit with your values. There are probably
dozens of classes and clubs that would be receptive to an invitation to have
a Pledge speaker with discussion, sooner rather than later in the semester. 
 
5. Finally, involve your career development center. They love to be useful
and often have lots of insights about how to implement the commitment of the
Pledge. 
 
These are just a few preliminary thoughts. I have a big pile of phone
numbers, and copies of correpondence that many of you have had with Neil
Wollman. In this outreach project, I'm dialing you in fairly random order.
Please feel free to email me with any specific questions, or to let me know
best times to reach you so that I can talk to more inspiring Pledge
activists and fewer voicemails. 
 
Have a great semester! 
 
Melissa Everett
Executive Director
Sustainable Careers Institute