Katherine Hazen ’18
Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield of Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream visited campus last week The event was hosted by the unofficial organization Smith Students for Bernie and the Smith Bipartisan Coalition, to campaign for Bernie Sanders.
The pair made the stop during their tour of Massachusetts before the “Super Tuesday” primary vote. The duo has been speaking to and scooping ice cream for voters across the country, but Smith is the only college campus they have visited. They spoke to a crowded Weinstein Auditorium with far more attendees than seats.
The event was organized by alumna Virginia Choi ’11. She heard that the pair planned to go through Western Massachusetts. Choi works in the engagement and communications division for StampStampede.org, a non-profit organization founded by Cohen that sells stamps for to be placed on currency in order to raise awareness of the issue of big money in politics. Sanders’s attention to the issue is a large part of why the duo actively supports the candidate.
“We have been constituents of Bernie for over 30 years, being from Vermont, and we have seen firsthand how Bernie has been tireless and unwavering [in] fighting for everyday working class Americans,” said Greenfield in an interview with The Sophian. “He’s the only person telling the truth about it, who’s not taking contributions from [Super PACs] He’s representing the people. Bernie is a candidate who comes along once in a generation, and Ben and I are totally inspired.”
The ice cream moguls spent the event citing reasons why Sanders is worthy of their vote, including his aversion to super PAC funding, his plan to overturn Citizens’ United and his dedication to fighting inequality in many forms, specifically income inequality and the prison-industrial system.
“I thought the event was really cool. I’m a big fan of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream, which was really what drew me there – I was excited to meet the geniuses behind ‘Half Baked’ ice cream,” said Emma Shoemaker ’18. “I don’t think it really shifted my decision or what candidate I’m leaning towards, but I was really excited to see so much enthusiasm for political activism in one room! I’m not exactly feeling the Bern, but the event gave me some things to think about, and I was glad I went!”
Cohen and Greenfield have also created an ice cream flavor – not associated with Ben & Jerry’s – to honor the candidate, called “Bernie’s Yearning.”
“I just wanted to come up with a flavor that symbolized what Bernie is about,” Cohen said, “and it’s essentially mint chocolate chip ice cream, yet somehow all the chips have risen to the top.”
The pair both argue that electing Sanders is necessary for changing the nation’s current track.
“I think what’s most important is systemic change to our government and to the way America is run. If Bernie were a woman, it would be so much better. If Hillary were advocating the same kind of things Bernie is, I would vote for her,” said Cohen.
“If you believe the way politics is run is good, if you like the status quo, then Hillary is your person. If you believe that the country is seriously off-track and the economy is seriously rigged toward the top one percent and corporations, there’s no choice really but to vote for Bernie,” he said.
After an initial victory for Sanders in New Hamphire and resounding wins for Clinton in both South Carolina and Nevada, the race is tight. While Bernie Sanders won his home state of Vermont on Super Tuesday, Hillary Clinton won Massachusetts.