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Ben & Jerry’s Keeps Its Hazed & Confused Brand by Hank Nuwer

The Florida parents of Harrison Kowiak, the young golfer killed during a violent fraternity physical hazing incident at Lenoir Rhyne University, received unwelcome news today from Ben & Jerry’s executives.

The Burlington, Vermont ice cream giant known previously for its professed concern in social matters has rejected a plea from Brian and Lianne Kowiak to change the name of its “Hazed and Confused” ice cream flavor.

“Very sadly, Ben & Jerry’s moral compass is pointing the wrong way,” said Brian Kowiak after receiving the corporate giant’s decision in a conference call. “It is obviously pointing towards the motivation for corporate profits and not morality. “

The bad news was delivered by Ben & Jerry’s company spokesperson Sean Greenwood, but Brian Kowiak was hardly surprised, although disappointed, to learn that the flavor would continue to be packaged and sold without a name change.

This afternoon, the Global Leadership team and B and J Board of Directors Jeff Furman, Pierre Ferrari, Jennifer Henderson, Jostein Solheim and Terry Mollner let the Kowiaks know that Hazed and Confused will remain on its list of available flavors.

Ironically, high school hazing has been prominently in the news of late.

–In Burlington, Vermont, home of Ben & Jerry’s, embarrassed Milton School District officials apologized after conceding they had inappropriately addressed a hazing incident. Most disturbing, the parents of Jordan Preavy, 17, said his suicide came on the heels of a sexual hazing at the Vermont institution.

–In New Jersey, the town of Sayreville was thrown into anguish this month as the news spread that freshman players allegedly had been digitally penetrated by up to seven seniors who now face serious charges in court following their arrests.

–Hazing deaths have now occurred on college campuses every year from 1970 to 2014, according to my research as Hanknuwer.com.

“Sean’s entire focus was that B&J did not have a purposeful intent to promote hazing, so they will not change the flavor name,” conceded Brian Kowiak today. “The point he avoided was the unintentional implications of the chosen name.”

Following the conference call, the Kowiaks have requested that the company submit its reasoning for refusing to change its brand’s name.

In the opinion of the Kowiaks, a nationally respected corporate giant had the opportunity to take the high road and send a national message that hazing is no lighthearted matter, particularly with Jordan Preavy’s suicide in its own back yard.

It will take more than a spoonful of sugar to make this decision understandable for families like the Kowiaks who had hoped for a name change.

At least one former Ben & Jerry’s customer has said he’ll find an alternative corporate choice following the refusal of the corporate giant to budge. “I saw this flavor in the Indianapolis Meijer store on Southport Road when looking for high-carb, high-fat escapism,” said Ray Begovich of Franklin, Indiana. “I escaped to a different, and cheaper brand. You may quote me.”

By Hank Nuwer

Hank Nuwer is the Indiana-based author of Broken Pledges: The Deadly Rite of Hazing, High School Hazing, Wrongs of Passage and The Hazing Reader. He has written articles or columns on hazing for the Sunday Times of India, Toronto Globe & Mail, Harper's Magazine, Orlando Sentinel, The Chronicle of Higher Education and the New York Times Sunday Magazine. His new book is Hazing: Destroying Young Lives from Indiana University Press.

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