By Mia Albaugh
On July 6, 2021, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine signed Collin’s Law into action in an effort to protect the safety of students and to create harsher penalties for those participating in hazing.
Hazing is any activity that humiliates, degrades, abuses or endangers an individual joining an organization, regardless of their willingness to participate, according to StopHazing.org.
According to the Ohio governor’s website, this bill:
- Expands the definition of hazing and specifies that hazing may include “coercing another to consume alcohol or a drug of abuse.”
- Increases the penalty for hazing to a 2nd degree misdemeanor.
- Expands the list of officials required to report hazing.
- Widens the scope of those who can be punished for participating in or permitting hazing. (A violation that results in serious harm is a 3rd degree felony.)
- Requires that those aware of hazing report it to authorities, with penalties up to a 1st degree misdemeanor for failing to do so.
- Requires the Ohio Department of Higher Education to implement a statewide anti-hazing plan.
- Requires staff and volunteers at colleges and universities to undergo training on hazing awareness and prevention.
Not only will failing to report a hazing incident result in a first-degree misdemeanor, but it could also result in a 180-day jail sentence and up to $1,000 in fines.
Before this bill was passed, the penalties for participating in hazing rituals were similar to the repercussions of failing to pay a speeding ticket. It was only considered a fourth-degree misdemeanor.
Lawmakers signed this bill in time for the fall semester of 2021 to help prevent hazing during the annual recruitment of new members in fraternities and sororities.
Because of Collin’s Law, any student joining a student organization in any college or university across Ohio is required to complete an anti-hazing training course that teaches students how to recognize and prevent hazing.
Many students recognize the negative impact of hazing practices.
“[Hazing] gets to a point where people are making other people do bad, terrible things. Their qualifications should be enough to get into somewhere,” said YSU student Lugina Bassil.
“We have a zero-tolerance policy for hazing and ensure all members have the proper information for reporting any act of hazing should it occur,” YSU Panhellenic Council president Abigail Cochran said. “Greek Life puts on anti-hazing activities during Hazing Prevention Week annually to raise awareness about the dangers of hazing and we ask members to sign an anti-hazing pledge.”
Hazing Prevention Week at YSU will begin Sept. 20 in Kilcawley Center.
The bill is named after Collin Wiant, who died in 2018 due to a hazing incident at Ohio University. The 18-year-old freshman collapsed after inhaling a canister of nitrous oxide in a fraternity house.
Three years later, Stone Foltz, a 20-year-old sophomore at Bowling Green State University, died of alcohol poisoning after he was made to drink a bottle of alcohol to join a fraternity.
Parents of both students were in full support of the bill and present as it was signed.
The Greek Life table at the YSU Block Party held information for recruitment. Photo by Mia Albaugh/The Jambar