Nebraska-Lincoln Chancellor Harvey Perlman retires and defends a not-so “innocent” tradition many see as hazing

mn7njw6ir0u0rtfjz1laThe following post for StopHazing was written by author and anti-hazing activist Hank Nuwer. For more information on Hank, check out his website at www.hanknuwer.com.

While I wish retiring University of Nebraska Chancellor Harvey Perlman well, and commend him for accomplishments in academics and athletics during his long tenure, I respectfully and strongly must speak out against his defense of a UNL tradition that certainly qualifies as a hazing practice.  See Video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LuOHgTpPs8g&feature=youtu.be

Perlman recently defended the senior UNL society known as the Innocents Society, a group that “welcomes” select newcomers each year with a “voluntary” tackle on an open field.

“Tackling somebody in an open field when they know it’s going to happen, and happen once, is just not the definition of hazing as we define it,” Perlman told media representatives.

Why yes it is. Which is why many sports teams have gotten rid of such barbaric and dated customs as “Freshman Kill Day” for soccer and “Senior Hit Day” in football.  Like all hazing acts, there is real peer pressure on the newcomers and veteran organization members alike to continue the status quo.

I, for one, wonder if school and team insurance would cover a crippling injury should an “Innocent” newcomer or old timer suffer a concussion or a broken leg…or worse. Almost certainly, the university that Perlman has represented would lose millions in a civil lawsuit should a life-threatening injury to spine, head or neck occur. Let us remember that Theta Chi pledge Harrison Kowiak lost his life playing a “mock” football ritual like this after he was tackled and his head hit the groend.

Don’t get me wrong, I heartily applaud such distinguished service organizations such as the Innocents, and their long distinguished history and all the now-distinguished members who now are alums.

But tackling someone to get into an organization is risky, wrong and absolutely an act of hazing.

That ritual needs to retire along with Chancellor Perlman.

Dante’s Inferno

mn7njw6ir0u0rtfjz1laThe following post for StopHazing was written by author and anti-hazing activist Hank Nuwer. For more information on Hank, check out his website at www.hanknuwer.com.

I’ve never been a fan of trying to end a persistent criminal act by making an example of one guilty party.

Nonetheless, Florida A&M band member Dante Martin may soon become a human cautionary tale for those who would take hazing to a felony level by either beating someone or encouraging/coercing someone to guzzle lethal amounts of alcohol.

Barring a mistrial should Dante Martin’s legal team of Ricahrd Escobar and Dino Michaels successfully appeal, the now-convicted, two-time felon will be sentenced in January from a minimum one year sentence up to 22 years (15 for manslaughter; seven for three counts of felony hazing) in the death of FAMU band member Robert Champion.

Florida State Attorney Jeff Ashton told Orlando Sentinel reporters following the verdict that he hoped the seriousness of the Martin judicial decision would deter other young men and women in band, athletics, fraternities and clubs from conducting hazing activities qualifying as deadly and demeaning.

A jury deliberated just two hours before delivering the verdict to Circuit Judge Renee Roche.

The parents of Robert Champion stressed there were no winners in the courtroom today. The sobbing family of Dante Martin will only see him while he is wearing an orange jump suit for a long time to come. The Champions will never visit their son Robert. And the cruel unknown, of course, is whether Robert Champion, had he survived the brutal attack on Bus C, would have pushed for all such hazings to end or if he, too, would have been part of a deadly tradition.

It is unlikely that the judge will sentence Dante Martin to a 22-year term, but soon, since word travels fast in the world of college sport and Greek life, all potential perpetrators will know that they could be sentenced to a term equal to one-third or one-quarter of their lives.

They will know that they could be walking the prison yard with rapists, killers and other career criminals.

No, I am not pleased that Mr. Dante Martin will serve as a national symbol of what can happen to a hazer when the worst happens.

But he now clearly IS an example. How ironic that his first name is Dante. Like the pilgrim in Dante Alighieri’s Inferno, his life now begins a journey through Hell.

Hazed and Confused Ice Cream? We’re Not Buying It

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The following post for StopHazing was written by author and anti-hazing activist Hank Nuwer. For more information on Hank, check out his website at www.hanknuwer.com.

We’ve heard about the latest scoop from Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. And we flatout don’t like the way the ice cream giant has come up with a new flavor to be called “Hazed and Confused,” the same name a Boulder (Co.)-based beer company chose for its new brand just about the time Colorado University was dealing with the hazing death of Gordie Bailey, Jr.

Ben and Jerry’s is located in Burlington, Vermont, once home to Jonathan McNamara who perished in a long fall from a cliff during a hazing incident. This isn’t the first company to make a mockery of hazing with an unfortunate ad campaign. Pizza Hut briefly did so, then pulled its commercial when public opinion was deadset against it. Snapple was worse, stubbornly keeping its web ads showing fraternity brothers in a compromised hazing situation with a broken paddle on the floor.

Activists Lianne and Brian Kowiak lost their son Harrison in an inane and deadly physical hazing episode in North Carolina that ended his life with a serious head injury. They protested to a front office staffer at Ben & Jerry’s who tried to convince the couple the ice cream name was all in jest.

Oh really, what other playful taboo subjects are next on the Board of Directors’ drawing board?

There is a glimmer of hope in the air, however. After all, Ben & Jerry’s swears up and down on its web site that it is a values-based company. Consumer Affairs Director Wendy Steager today announced to the Kowiaks a new position:

Ben & Jerry’s Statement on Hazed & Confused

The naming of Ben & Jerry’s newest Core Concoction flavor “Hazed & Confused” is a wordplay on the term “dazed and confused.” The concoction is a hazelnut-based flavor, and Ben & Jerry’s often connects popular culture to its flavors, hence the pun. The flavor Hazed & Confused and Ben & Jerry’s as a company in no way condone – nor support in any manner – the act of hazing or bullying.

Ben & Jerry’s has taken a position to support equality throughout its 36 year history. Aligning with the Occupy Wall Street movement, standing up for children with the Call for Kids program, and B&Js perennial and global support of same sex marriage in the United States, United Kingdom and Australia all demonstrate the company’s ongoing vibrant belief and efforts to support diversity, equality and peace.

Ben & Jerry’s believes that hazing and bullying have no place in our society. No individual, group, or entity should benefit by marginalizing others. Empathizing with those individuals and families who have unfortunately endured the hardship of hazing, the company’s Global Leadership Team is reviewing this issue at its next meeting.

Here’s hoping that many of you for Hazing Prevention Week will send a stern single sentence to Ms. Steager and the Ben and Jerry Board of Directors Jeff Furman, Pierre Ferrari, Jennifer Henderson, Jostein Solheim and Terry Mollner.

I’ll let Lianne Kowiak have the last word. “As parents who have lost their 19 year old son from something so senseless as hazing, we would like to see Ben & Jerry’s change the name of an ice cream flavor “Hazed and Confused”. For all the families that have lost a son or daughter or loved one to hazing and for all the individuals who have been harmed physically and emotionally , and out of respect to them, this action would support the core values and attention to social issues Ben & Jerry’s represents.”

The board meets in mid-October. Make your voice known. Hazed and Confused? Here’s my new motto. “We’re not buying it…nor any other Ben & Jerry’s product. Not so long as they put out that offensive flavor.” Send a letter of protest to Ben & Jerry at Wendy.Steager@benjerry.com. Then send a CC to Lianne and Brian at Lkowiak@hotmail.com

Do the right thing. Pull “Hazed and Confused” out of production.