Ben & Jerry’s balances dessert, activism
The company’s statement in support of Occupy Wall Street coincided with a Free Ice Cream Social for students
October 21, 2011, 12:48 am·
Christina Prudencio | DP
Earlier this month, Ben & Jerry’s board of directors declared its support for the Occupy Wall Street protests on its website. Closer to home, the Ben & Jerry’s on campus is trying to balance its support for the company and support from Penn students.
The company’s statement does not have any bearing on the operation of the store at 216 S. 40th St., owner and manager Jim Wardwell said. Wardwell added that Ben & Jerry’s is often at the “forefront of social activism.”
The announcement coincided with a Free Ice Cream Social hosted by the campus Ben & Jerry’s as part of Greek Week’s activities Thursday night. Penn students were invited to take free ice cream and meet students involved with Greek life. College seniorand Multicultural Greek Council Vice President Elaine Kwon said it was one of the main social events for Greek Week. The line for free ice cream extended to Smokey Joe’s three doors down.
“Ben & Jerry’s has been handing out ice cream to protesters in New York,” Wardwell said. “But I’m not about to go camp out. I’m sticking to Penn students.” He added that the Interfraternity Council footed all costs of the event, but at a discount.
College and Engineering sophomore Sarah Careyva is against the Occupy movements, but said it did not affect her decision to attend the event. “It’s still good ice cream,” she said.
Multicultural Greek Council President and College senior Jared Barchus said he will work on Wall Street next year. He found the Ben & Jerry’s statement interesting, but said the company and the Occupy movement were two very different things.
“Ben & Jerry’s have always associated themselves with activism, so I think this furthers their brand in that regard,” assistant Marketing professor Jonah Berger wrote in an email. “It might also help them appeal even more to the large segment of people who feel anti-Wall Street at the moment.”
College sophomore Emma Johnson, who frequents Ben & Jerry’s, said that the statement would make her come more.
Others in University City expressed concern about the statement.
Jordan Stein, who works at a bank in University City, said if Ben & Jerry’s support starts to get “out of control,” it would affect his decision to buy ice cream, adding that he would be concerned if the company financially supported the movement.
An employee of the campus Ben & Jerry’s, who wished to remain anonymous to conceal her opinions from upper management, also does not support Occupy Wall Street and believes the police brutality has been exaggerated in the media, adding that Ben & Jerry’s never notified its employees of the statement.
“There is a conflict of interest,” Wardwell said. Unilever, which owns Ben & Jerry’s, “is one of those companies that the protesters are talking about … Ben & Jerry’s always tries to combine being profitable with social responsibility.”