COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A proposal to increase criminal penalties for hazing in Ohio has unanimously passed the state Senate.
The bill passed Wednesday is called “Collin’s Law” after Collin Wiant, an 18-year-old Ohio University student who died after ingesting nitrous oxide in 2018. A version of the legislation stalled last year, but it gained momentum after the March death of Bowling Green State University student Stone Foltz in another alleged fraternity hazing.
Seven people pleaded guilty to charges in the Wiant case. Seven current or former fraternity members have pleaded not guilty to various charges in the Foltz case.
Under the legislation, hazing violations under existing prohibitions would become second-degree misdemeanors. New prohibitions would make it a third-degree felony to recklessly permit or participate in hazing that involves forced consumption of drugs or alcohol and causes someone serious physical harm.
The measure also requires that college campuses provide anti-hazing training for students and faculty, and provide information online about all reported hazing violations.
Sen. Stephanie Kunze, a Republican from Hilliard who was one of the bill’s sponsors, said she hopes the combination of stiffer penalties and more education makes people think twice about any involvement in hazing.
The bill now goes to the House for consideration.