Greeks weigh in on anti-hazing bill

By C. Aileen Blaine

Senate Bill 126, also known as Collin’s Law, was reintroduced to the Ohio Senate in early March following the fatal hazing event involving a student at Bowling Green State University. Youngstown State University Greek Life members offer their support. 

A BGSU student, Stone Foltz, died March 7 from a fatal level of alcohol intoxication brought on by a hazing initiation involving the Pi Kappa Alpha chapter at the university. The recent incident has spurred lawmakers, such as State Sens. Stephanie Kunze and Theresa Gavarone, into action.

It was first drafted in 2019 after the fatal hazing event involving Collin Wiant at Ohio University in November 2018. Wiant’s parents worked with legislators to ensure something like this doesn’t happen to someone else. 

The bill, which is also referred to as the Ohio Anti-hazing Act, would increase the penalty for hazing from a fourth-degree misdemeanor to a second-degree misdemeanor, and when involving drugs or alcohol, a third-degree felony. It seeks to include all forms of hazing, not just those considered severe. 

YSU’s past is not entirely clean of hazing incidents. In February 2012, YSU student ReSean Yancey was hospitalized in critical care after receiving “serious injuries sustained over being hazed multiple times” to join the Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity, according to a statement by the Youngstown Police Department following the incident. Eight former YSU students were charged with felonious assault. The fraternity was suspended from forming a chapter at YSU until fall 2027. 

Abbey Cochran, president of the Panhellenic Council and a human resources management junior, said the Yancey case is a clear example of unacceptable behaviour of hazing for any student organization.

“Even though this case happened a decade ago, it shows that the repercussions of hazing last for years after it occurs. [Pi Kappa Alpha] is still dealing with the consequences to this day,” Cochran said. 

Integrated mathematics education junior and vice president of Interfraternity Council membership development Clay Miller said the BGSU case allows YSU Greek chapters to have more serious conversations regarding hazing.

“The best way for YSU organizations to prevent and eliminate hazing is to eliminate the experience hierarchy,” Miller said “All members of all organizations should be treated equal, regardless of years of service.” 

Since then, the university has revised its anti-hazing policies, which define hazing as “an act which endangers the mental or physical health, or safety of a student.” YSU is an anti-hazing campus, and Greek organizations receive information and resources on what to do should an event occur.

This semester, Greek Life members shared a letter-writing campaign, where they wrote to district congress members to express support for the bill.  Each September, Greek organizations offer events during Hazing Prevention Week, with “These Hands Don’t Haze,” a pledge Greek members sign. 

Ian Ward, biology junior and president of the Interfraternity Council, said Greek Life members and campus leaders across the state stand in unity for Collin’s Law. 

“This adds that extra level of accountability all across the board in the whole state,” Ward said. “We all stand together on the issue that hazing is never okay and should never happen on our campus.”

Camryn Ealy, vice president of Panhellenic Council membership development and an exercise science junior, said despite the current lack of hazing occurring at YSU, it’s an important discussion for campus to have.

“It has brought up the issue and made us sit here and be like, ‘This is still something that’s happening,’” Ealy said. “It doesn’t affect me, but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t advocate for [the anti-hazing act], and I should talk about it and realize that it is an issue.”

If anyone suspects an incident of hazing, a report form is available on the YSU Greek Life anti-hazing policy page.