Moderator Hank Nuwer: Last Fall the corporate board of Ben & Jerry’s voted to keep the name of its flavor “Hazed and Confused,” determining that it saw no harm in celebrating an action called “hazing” that has been condemned by educators and is against the law in 44 states. In addition to myself, strong pleas for a name change were made by Elizabeth Allan of Stophazing.org and Lianne Kowiak, an award-winning hazing activist and mother of Harrison Kowiak who died in a senseless hazing at Lenoir-Rhyne in North Carolina.
Predictably, as the board made its decision, a disturbing high school hazing case on the Milton High School football team occurred less than 10 miles from the Burlington corporate giant’s headquarters. As a result of horrific sexual hazing, one teen committed suicide and five former football players were charged with serious crimes. Now, as I write, the community of Milton has been trying to find a way to heal the community with new hazing policies and discussions after an independent ruled this:
“Five Milton School District employees — including Superintendent John Barone and high school Principals Anne Blake and Scott Thompson — failed to follow school policies in the wake of hazing rituals for the varsity football team, a new independent investigation has concluded.
The report was designed to determine if Milton School District administrators and employees complied with all rules, regulations and policies designed to protect children.
A previous criminal investigation revealed five Milton football players held initiations that included sexually hazing younger players with broom sticks or pool cues, court records showed.
The hazing case spread over several years and included criminal convictions for the five former players. One hazing victim died by suicide a year after he was assaulted, and the Vermont Legislature adopted a new law this year designed to provide greater protection for children, including for hazing.” –Burlington (VT) Free Press
Let me add my two cents: There are other adults in the Burlington, VT area who failed the public by continuing to dismiss the seriousness of hazing despite numerous sexually assaulted youngsters, the ruined lives of perpetrators, and most of all, the suicide of a victim. Meet the shortsighted board of Ben & Jerry’s.
Once again, we ask Ben & Jerry’s board to do the right thing. Take “Hazed and Confused” off the nation’s shelves.