higher ed organizing

colist at comm-org.utoledo.edu colist at comm-org.utoledo.edu
Mon Sep 8 20:35:21 CDT 2003

[ed:  those of you in higher education may find this of interest.]

From:           	NJWollman at manchester.edu

Neil Wollman, Senior Fellow, Peace Studies Institute; Professor of
Psychology; Manchester College, N. Manchester, IN 46962; 260-982-5346; fax
260-982-5043; njw at manchester.edu


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 (Virginia
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 weapons-related

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,
fifty 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

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