COLUMBUS, Ohio — A sweeping new law and statewide policy takes effect Thursday, aimed at preventing hazing, especially on college and university campuses.
The Ohio Department of Higher Education has announced a new statewide plan that includes mandatory online hazing prevention training for students, staff, and volunteers of campus groups, teams, and organizations.
The statewide plan coincides with the effective date of Collin's Law, which increases penalties for hazing incidents, especially those involving drugs and alcohol, which would be treated as felonies, and could result in serious prison time. The law also makes the failure to report a hazing offense a misdemeanor crime.
“There is no tolerance for hazing in Ohio,” said Governor DeWine. “I am hopeful that this new law will go a long way toward eliminating all forms of hazing on Ohio’s campuses.”
The plan consists of a model anti-hazing policy and guidelines that will help higher education institutions develop and implement anti-hazing education training programs.
On July 6, Governor Mike DeWine signed Collin’s Law, named in honor of Collin Wiant, an 18-year-old Ohio University freshman who died in November 2018 after inhaling a canister of nitrous oxide, which police reports say was forced upon him during a fraternity hazing incident.
The parents of Wiant, along with the parents of Stone Foltz, a 20-year-old student who died March 7 as the result of a fraternity hazing incident at Bowling Green University, were present as DeWine signed the bill into law.
Most recently, in the state of Ohio, Ohio University launched a mandatory program for all students, faculty and staff to complete online. The online hazing prevention training is designed as an educational tool with resources that help identify hazing and prevent it from occurring.
“Acts of hazing have occurred at campuses across the United States for too long, leaving physical, psychological, and emotional scars that seldom heal quickly,” said ODHE Chancellor Randy Gardner. “Earlier this year, Governor DeWine and the Ohio General Assembly sent a clear and direct message to everyone affiliated with colleges and universities in our state – taking important steps necessary to bring an end to hazing must be an Ohio priority.”
The new statewide anti-hazing policy was co-designed after consultation with college and university representatives across Ohio as well as the staff from Attorney General Dave Yost’s office.
There is also an optional expanded anti-hazing framework with additional components for campuses that want to go above the requirements of the law.
"Not only is there no tolerance for hazing in Ohio, but there's no tolerance for anyone not taking hazing seriously in this state from this day on," Chancellor Gardner told 3News.
If you're interested in viewing the higher education plan, click here.
*Editor's Note: The video in the player above is from a previous report.