A bill proposing harsher penalties for hazing unanimously passed the Ohio Senate last week.
Senate Bill 126, also known as “Collin’s Law: Ohio Anti-Hazing,” was introduced after 18-year-old Ohio University student Colin Wiant died of asphyxiation during a Sigma Pi fraternity party in 2018.
The bill gathered momentum after Stone Foltz, a 20-year-old sophomore at Bowling Green State University died after suspected fraternity hazing while attending an off-campus Phi Kappa Alpha party.
Bill co-sponsor Teresa Gavarone stated her mission is “to ensure that no parent has to deal with the life-altering tragedy of losing a child to hazing.” She also remarked that all eyes are on Ohio to see how it responds to hazing deaths.
‘Colin’s Law’ Provisions
In Ohio, hazing is a fourth-degree misdemeanor, comparable to not paying a speeding ticket.
Colin’s Law would qualify hazing violations as a second-degree misdemeanor or third-degree felony if hazing involves forced consumption of drugs or alcohol causing physical harm. Failure to report hazing would qualify as a first-degree misdemeanor.
Under the legislation, the state will also establish anti-hazing education for college students across the state. Colleges and universities will also have to be more transparent about reporting campus organization hazing violations on their websites.
The anti-hazing bill is all set to be considered by the House. If passed, Ohio would follow Florida, California, Wisconsin, and Michigan, becoming the 14th state in the country to make hazing a felony.