Ohio law makes it harder for universities to turn blind eye to hazing

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It’s a deadly case of hazing that has fraternities and universities under fire.

Eighteen Penn State fraternity brothers are charged in connection to the death of Timothy Piazza.

The Beta Theta Pi pledge fell down the stairs after playing a drinking game, but no one called 911 until 12 hours after the incident.

On Wednesday, the university’s president said they must work harder to prevent tragedies like that but many are questioning whether the university should be held accountable.

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"If, behind closed doors, a group of people are willing to band together, keep this secret, not tell anyone how is it that universities can manage to deal with a situation like that?" Eric Barron, Penn State president, said.

It’s often denied, but studies show more than half of students involved in organizations have been hazed.

In about a quarter of those cases, coaches or advisors didn’t even report it.

In Ohio, that’s against the law and it’s stated clearly in section 2903.31 of the revised code.

"There is both civil liability on the part of universities and administrators, as well as high schools and middles, that do not take action when it knows of hazing or should know of hazing,” Susan Stone, attorney for McCarthy, Lebit, Crystal & Liffman Co., said.

Many universities in Ohio have zero tolerance policies, for example, Cleveland State University holds a hazing prevention week once a semester.

Kent State University cites Ohio law on its website and adds its own definition of hazing

At Case Western Reserve, they lay out 85 different hazing examples with a reminder that each one is against the law.

"It's a wonderful thing to protect our students in Ohio,” Stone said.

The statute makes it harder for universities to turn a blind eye to something some people brush off as “harmless fun.”