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'We will not tolerate hazing': Gov. Mike DeWine signs Collin's Law into effect

Posted at 7:18 AM, Jul 06, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-06 18:18:01-04

COLUMBUS, Ohio — On Tuesday, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine signed the anti-hazing legislation Collin’s Law, which will go into effect in 90 days. It is named after Collin Wiant, the Ohio University student who died of asphyxiation due to nitrous oxide ingestion after attending a fraternity-related party in 2018.

The law expands criminal penalties for hazing and implements education and prevention procedures, particularly within Ohio colleges and universities.

The law also bans “recklessly participating” in hazing, including forced consumption of alcohol or drugs, and increases the existing penalty for hazing to a second-degree misdemeanor.

RELATED: Anti-hazing ‘Collin’s Law’ passes Ohio House

Those who permit hazing, including education officials, employees, faculty or alumni, could face a third-degree felony under the law. Failing to report hazing to law enforcement could result in a misdemeanor charge.

Ahead of putting the pen to paper, DeWine thanked the Wiant family and the Foltz family, whose son Stone died in March 2021 from an alleged hazing incident at Bowling Green State University, for having the courage to speak about their losses and turning their grief into something positive.

“We simply in Ohio cannot tolerate hazing, and we're saying with this bill that we will not tolerate hazing. This is really a question of culture. And for decades, the culture of hazing has been accepted, as something that is tolerated. This bill says that going forward, hazing in the state of Ohio is simply not tolerated,” DeWine said.

RELATED: 8 students indicted in alleged hazing death of Bowling Green student Stone Foltz

DeWine said the signing of the anti-hazing legislation shows that the state will not only get serious about the issue of hazing when someone dies, it is also taking steps to prevent another family from experiencing a tragedy.

Kathleen Wiant, the mother of Collin, thanked her family for their support as she worked for the past two years to get Collin’s Law to DeWine’s desk.

“A few days after Collin died, our family gathered around the kitchen table to write his obituary. The first thing my children said had to be in it was that Collin always stood up for the underdog. Collin was a protector by nature. I can think of no greater way to honor him than a law his name, designed for the sole purpose of protecting others. Collin, I know you're watching, and I hope we made you proud,” she said.

Shari Foltz, the mother of Stone Foltz, called the bill a “step in the right direction.”

“We will continue to fight. Our fight is zero tolerance. We will prevent this from happening and having to get to the felony. We will do everything in our power, and I know Stone and Collin are fighting for us and there for us, and that's why we continue to do it. We made a promise to Stone on his hospital bed that we would keep fighting and we would not allow this,” Shari said.

RELATED: Ohio mom, whose son died from hazing, is pushing for anti-hazing law after BGSU student's death