CLEVELAND — Collin’s Law, an anti-hazing legislation, is now officially in effect in Ohio.
The legislation is named after Collin Wiant, an Ohio University freshman who died after ingesting nitrous oxide during a hazing incident at a fraternity party in 2018.
Collin’s mother, Kathleen, and many other parents have lobbied for the law for years.
“The sad truth of it is hazing is only made a felony when a student dies and the parents get upset and they go and change the law,” she said. “You know, it certainly doesn't take away any of the pain whatsoever of losing Collin, but it helps us to believe that this is going to save another family from what we have been through.”
Collin's Law was pushed by former State Representative Dave Greenspan.
The law expands the definition of hazing and increases penalties to a second-degree misdemeanor. If drugs and alcohol are involved it's now a third-degree felony. Felony charges will also be faced if someone is hurt or killed. The law also expands the list of officials required to report hazing, calls for curriculum on hazing for students and more transparency from schools.
“Our bill is very strong. It may be the strongest in the country at this point,” Greenspan explained. “These organizations are value-based organizations that really help develop young men and young men, but all too often we're seeing there is a small fraction of individuals who take advantage of that opportunity and pervert and distort its true meaning for some purpose that is unrelated to the values and missions of these organizations. So, it's important that we put a stop to this.”
The law received renewed support this year following the death of Stone Foltz, a Bowling Green student and another hazing victim.
“We will continue to fight. Collin's law is a step in the right direction,” said Foltz’s mother, Shari Foltz.
As hazing continues in the Greek world and several other organizations, so does the lobbying for more change, which is now taking place on Capitol Hill.
“Hazing is a felony in 11 states, so we have a lot of work to do across the country and other states, and they need to really increase the education to students,” Wiant said. “We can't sit and wait for a student to die in every state until students across the country are protected.”