Hartwick Commencement Goes ‘Green’ from Gowns to Pledges

May 18, 2011

As the Hartwick College Class of 2011, their families, friends, faculty and staff prepare for the May 28 Commencement exercises that will cap their undergraduate career, things on Oyaron Hill have taken on a decidedly green tint. Beginning with the gowns on their backs, the Class of 2011 has planned an environmentally friendly graduation.

Virginia-based Oak Hill will supply graduates' caps and gowns, all of which will come from the company's new "GreenWeaver" line. These eco-friendly outfits are made from 100 percent post-consumer recycled plastic bottles.

The students on Hartwick's Commencement Committee chose from among a few manufacturers, and decided Oak Hill's commitment to sustainability and customer service trumped the others, explained Brian Terbush '11.

"We looked at three different designs, and the eco-friendly program was explained to us in detail," he said. "We liked the fit and the way the eco-friendly gown looked, and another big selling point for me was the customer service aspect."

"College students and campuses are at the forefront of environmental conscience and green habits," said Joseph D'Angelo, executive vice president of Oak Hall. "When we started seeing such campus trends as biodegradable utensils, we felt developing an environmentally friendly gown was the right thing to do for students, colleges and universities, and our planet."

What's more, Hartwick's Grassroots Environmental Club is leading the sustainability charge, asking members of the Class of 2011 to sign a pledge upon their graduation.

"A lot of students on this campus are socially and environmentally aware, and offering them the chance to take the Graduation Pledge for Social and Environmental Responsibility seemed like a progressive step for the student body to take," said Grassroots President Rebecka Flynn '12. "Since Grassroots is the student environmental organization at Hartwick, it seemed fitting that we should be the ones who promoted the pledge to graduating seniors."

The Graduation Pledge of Social and Environmental Responsibility 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 mission of the Graduation Pledge Alliance 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.

Nearly 100 colleges and universities are using the Graduation Pledge at some level. Graduates, who voluntarily sign the pledge, have turned down jobs with which they did not feel comfortable and have worked to make changes once on the job. They have promoted recycling at their organizations, 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 contract.

Graduating Hartwick seniors who take the pledge this year will wear a light blue ribbon at Commencement, which will be held at 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, May 28 on Elmore Field, high atop Hartwick College's hilltop campus.

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Hartwick College is a private liberal arts and sciences college of 1,500 students, located in Oneonta, NY, in the northern foothills of the Catskill Mountains. Hartwick's expansive curriculum emphasizes a uniquely experiential approach to the liberal arts. Through personalized teaching, collaborative research, a unique January Term, a wide range of internships, and vast study-abroad opportunities, Hartwick ensures that students are prepared for the world ahead. A Three-Year Bachelor's Degree Program and strong financial aid and scholarship offerings keep a Hartwick education affordable.

Contact: Christopher Lott
Phone: 607-431-4030