By Niki Acton '16
At Commencement, more than 270 seniors decorated their robes with green ribbons, symbols of their commitment to the Graduation Pledge for Social and Environmental Responsibility.
Each of these seniors signed a pledge that 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."
This pledge, implemented by Elizabeth Cockrell '12 and KARES (Knox Advocates for Recycling and Environmental Support) for the first time in 2009, was created at Humbolt State University.
This year, the pledge gained real traction for the first time at Knox as more than 90% of the graduating class signed their names. "I think this pledge characterizes the fundamental ethical filter we should apply to all our actions in life," said Ramona "Froggi" VanRiper, Director of Campus Sustainability Initiatives at Knox.
Mya Kahler, double major in environmental studies and theatre, is just one of the students who wore a green ribbon on graduation day. "Our generation is at a pivotal turning point," said Kahler. "We will have to change our habits to preserve the earth for future generations. The easiest way to do this is by realizing our personal contributions to environmental degradation and figuring out how to limit our impact. That is why I took the pledge."
Melvin Taylor, educational studies major, took the pledge thinking about his own future career. "This pledge is going to say to future colleagues and employers that not only am I serious about my career, but I also care deeply about the environment and society that I live in."
In an effort to see the pledge continue at Knox, it has been incorporated into the operations of the Sustainability Office. VanRiper hopes to maintain the momentum each year, even as students instrumental in organizing the pledge graduate.
"The pledge shows a concentrated effort by our generation to improve the environment we live in," said Taylor. "This effort is to show that when we come together for a cause and we decide what is right, we can truly make a difference."