Alie Schreiber ’13
Every year Trinity seniors are required to attend Senior Salute. At this right of passage the graduating seniors receive things like their cap and gown, class rank, extreme weather tickets to graduation, etc. There is also a table set up which is manned by members of the Community Service office where seniors can take the Graduation Pledge.
The Graduation Pledge 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.” The pledge is completely voluntary, but as liberal arts graduates who are taught in their four years at Trinity to be civically minded, the Pledge is an excellent way to leave the College with a promise to make the world even just the slightest bit better.
The Graduation Pledge Alliance (GPA) sponsors the pledge. The GPA was started in 1987 with a clearly defined mission: “The mission of the Graduation Pledge Alliance (GPA) is to build a global community of responsible graduates improving society and the environment through the workplace. GPA works to help realize a world where every graduate, through the workplace, is an effective leader for social and environmental improvement.”
The original GPA was founded out of Humboldt State University in Arcata, CA. The following year it was moved to Manchester College before finding its current home at Bentley University in Massachusetts. Since its founding, hundreds of different colleges and universities around the world have taken part in the GPA’s efforts. The GPA has had over 125,000 graduating students sign their pledge. All different types of schools are involved with GPA, including liberal arts colleges, state universities, private research universities, and schools in other countries such as Taiwan, the Philippines, Canada, Bolivia, and Switzerland. The only other NESCAC school with a GPA chapter, besides Trinity, is Bates Colleges in Lewiston, Maine.
As a part of this pledge effort at the Senior Salute, Trinity’s GPA chapter has also formed a partnership with the Career Development Center. Each week a new job that epitomizes the ideals of the GPA is advertised in an email to all students and the information is also posted on Facebook. These jobs are one way that students can actively fulfill the pledge, but they are not the only way. No matter what job students commit to as a post-graduate, there is always the opportunity to try to actively improve the world.
To take the Pledge, the graduating seniors sign the same book that hundreds of prior graduates have signed in order to signify their commitment. In recognition of their promise the graduating seniors will also receive a green ribbon in their mailbox right before graduation that is to be worn on their gown.
William Ihne, a co-founder of the GPA, said, “The pledge isn’t the answer. It’s just a piece of paper with words. On the other hand, it’s much more. The words and concept point towards solutions — that is, it points to the individual and suggests a role for the educational community. The vision that goes along with it is simple. If thousands of schools around the world give graduating students an opportunity to sign the pledge, and if even a small percentage of pledge-signers dedicate themselves to ensuring positive, constructive consequences, then humanity, and the systems that support life on our earth, might very well reap a substantial benefit.”
Seniors who did not sign the pledge at Senior Salute but are still interested still have an opportunity to participate. For more information, seniors should contact Joe Barber in the Community Service office in the basement of Mather Hall.