6 Tips for Creating a Successful Petition on Campus


Kaitlin Irwin

If you notice something on your school’s campus that you strongly disagree with, you may feel moved to do something about it. One way to fight for change is by creating a petition against a program or policy. But where do you even start? Here are some helpful steps for working on a petition that can bring about real change on campus.

1. Use your personal experiences.

A petition really speaks volumes when it includes a personal anecdote from the writer. If you can, try to sprinkle your own experiences in it. How has the program or policy affected you? Why is it a big deal? How are others affected? Why is this issue important to you?

2. Do your research.

It is best to start with the who, what, where, when, why, and how of the problem. Who does the policy or program pertain to? What is the main problem with it? Where can you find support? When will action take place? Why is this is so important? How can you change it?

3. Identify the people or organizations involved.

This is important, because your petition will not have much staying power if you don’t know who is responsible. Maybe the issue is at a lower level, such as with a professor. On the other hand, maybe your school has instituted a harmful policy and the only way of changing it is to go to the college president. Once you identify the person (or people) who can initiate changes to the program or policy, you can start organizing your petition.

4. Think about the consequences of ignoring this issue… and offer up some other options.

Of course, you want to point out the negative effects of the policy or program you are petitioning. You also want to offer some positive solutions. Perhaps the policy can be altered or tweaked rather than simply thrown away. Maybe you can work with your school to revamp a program that you consider harmful.

5. Make it small but mighty.

Remember, you don’t want to be disrespectful, but you do want to strongly get your point across. Try to keep your petition to less than a page and try to include key words and action items that will grab your audience’s attention. You don’t want people to be put off by a lengthy letter, so aim for 4-5 short paragraphs. Be sure to include the problem, why it’s an issue, who is responsible, and solutions or alternatives.

6. Get others involved by sharing your petition with everyone you can think of.

Send it to your friends, family, classmates and professors. Spread the word in your local community as well as to any organizations or groups you’re a part of, such as your workplace, a church group, or an online community (if appropriate). Post it on your social media profiles, email it to the target person or organization, and maybe even print out hard copies of the petition to post around town.

Of course, this list is not a surefire way to create and implement a successful petition. Everyone’s experience will be different in some way. Even so, these steps are a great place to start. Most importantly, never underestimate the power and courage it takes to stand up and speak.

Student Life Badge





Kaitlin Irwin is a recovered anorexic who spent her college years struggling to hide her illness. With lots of support, patience and an Intensive Outpatient Program, she embraced herself, flaws and all. In her free time, she enjoys exercise, cooking and art and can usually be found with a good book, a journal or her fiancé. She hopes to use her love of creative expression to spread positivity and love to others. 

This content was originally published on in 2016.

Eating Disorders On Campus Guide

Eating Disorders On Campus Guide

Want to create change on your campus? Our Eating Disorders On Campus Guide is designed to bring students, faculty, and campus services together in the fight against eating disorders.

Download the Guide >