GPA Updates Log

Graduation Pledge Alliance - 5th Update for 2004-2005

Hello Graduation Pledge Alliance Campaigners,


n       We are now entering the home stretch for those with May graduations. Many of you are gearing up for spring pre-graduation activities, though there is a wide gap between schools in level of activity. If you were planning on "just" doing something around graduation time, that’s fine. However, if you are open to one other public event before graduation, see the "Steps" piece below. We have had stories about spring events in big publications like Business Week, USA Today, and the Washington Post – so you might find yourself in a big publication this year if you have something interesting going on this spring! Please tell us about that.


n       If you cannot make a full effort this year, at least try something small (again, see “Steps” piece below). At some schools Plege organizers are only able to do “tabling” for a day or two--signing up folks, handing out Pledge cards/green ribbons/literature, and doing a little publicity about it ahead of time, if possible. It’s a start and will at least give this year’s senior class a chance to participate and put the Pledge on the map on your campus.  If you do so, let your college president or other higher-ups know.  It’s the first step in their considering adopting the Pledge officially for the school. Some administrators have been very supportive. 


n       Thanks for those who have sent names/contact information for your pledge committee, or time lines for activities. As I have said, setting these up will help both you and us.


n       Given the number of schools doing or considering the Pledge, it is hard for our office to maintain individual contact with all organizers. However, I have recently been sending brief emails to school contacts and will do so for another week or two. Thanks for those who have responded, letting me know what is happening (or not) at your school—or where you could use a little help. These reponses--even brief ones—also let us know you are still alive!


n       Finally, a few pieces on the web site ( might be particularly helpful in the coming weeks: downloadable and printable Pledge cards/certificates for seniors to sign; a letter for seniors introducing them to the Pledge; printable Pledge brochures; a handout for seniors concerning their future jobs; and ideas for seniors to consider when applying for jobs or making positive changes on the job.  Plus don’t forget the green ribbons for wearing graduation day. 


Best wishes,



P.S. Please see piece at bottom from a group below planning a conference that might be of interest. 


Neil Wollman

National Coordinator, Graduation Pledge Alliance

MC Box 135

Manchester College

North Manchester, IN  46962





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."



Generation FAIR Conference

April 1-3, 2005

Washington, D.C.

Call for Workshop Proposals


      The Generation FAIR Network (Young People for a Fair, Accountable, Interdependent, and Responsible U.S. Global Engagement) is a loose network of non-profit organizations working to mobilize young people around progressive values and policy commitments that unite our campaigns. The network is committed to linking together campaigns for global justice in order to advance just and responsible U.S. leadership.

      The FAIR Conference organizers realize that while we may be working on different issues, we are united in many ways. We share the belief that we can and will make this world a better place for all. We understand that we cannot solve one problem without addressing other issues that are linked to it. For example, we cannot fully address the living wage problems of sweatshops without also recognizing the environmental and health damages that sweatshops cause. We hope to inspire others to recognize the interconnectedness of the numerous global justice issues, and to spur collaborative action across these issue groups, so that over time we will become stronger in our efforts to bring about change.

      One of the most important and exciting parts of the conference is the time set aside for planning sessions that will bring together individuals who will create action plans and receive catalytic grants from the FAIR Network to carry out their projects. We also plan to articulate a broad youth vision for U.S. global engagement. We will develop much-needed short and long-term goals for young people dedicated to the struggle. We hope that the organizers who meet at the conference can leave feeling that we have a unified youth movement that will make us stronger in our work. This conference is an amazing opportunity for us to create a strong, unified youth movement that will address all of our demands.


What do we want?


      We want you to think about how something you work on is related to other issues. A strong conference will have a balance between workshops show how issues and concepts can be connected and workshops that show how actions and campaigns can be connected and implemented.

      Consider collaborating with folks who usually present on different issues! If you’re interested in doing this but don’t have connections to possible co-presenters, we can help you with that, just let us know. We want workshops where participants will have the chance to make connections with each other as people, not just between their issues. Interactive workshops are best! 


Here are some ideas of workshops on connecting actions and campaigns:


-          Case studies on successful collaborations- there have been many!

-          Theory and practice of local community organizing and collaborative campaigns

-          Link local community struggles to global resistance against militarism, corporate imperialism

-          The role of faith in progressive social movements

-          Making anti-oppression structural within the movement, not just cognizant

-          Campaign Strategizing: Pick a sample collaborative campaign and work through a strategy chart


Here are some examples of workshops that connect issues and concepts:


-          The connections between the human and environmental costs of wars.

-          The connection between trade and/or militarization and migration across borders.

-          Connecting domestic agriculture with global economics

-          The connection between HIV/AIDS, poverty and hunger, and international debt

-          The interconnected effects of U.S. foreign assistance

-          Animal Rights and trade agreements 

-          Mining and its impact on communities, workers, and the Environment


What are you gonna do?

      In 1-2 pages, share your workshop plan with us and we’ll see what we can do. Please give as many specific details as you can envision with about 20-50 people in your workshop. You’ve got about an hour and fifteen minutes.


How to Submit a Proposal

      Along with your proposal, send your name, your organization’s name (if you’re with a group), full contact information, and a short biography/description of yourself and/or your organization. Email it all to