COLUMBUS, Ohio — The parents of Bowling Green State University student Stone Foltz, who was hazed to death, testified in Columbus Wednesday, pleading to state legislators to pass a new anti-hazing bill.
Foltz reportedly drank himself to death and his parents, Shari and Cory, say he had no choice.
Cory Foltz struggled to hold back tears addressing legislators during a Ohio Senate Workforce and Higher Education Committee hearing on Senate Bill 126, or Collin's Law.
"Our son will never come through the door to give us a hug and a kiss," said Cory Foltz.
Police say Stone Foltz attended an off-campus party for the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity, or PIKE, on March 4. They say hazing was involved, in the form of new members being blindfolded and asked to drink an entire fifth of hard alcohol as part of an initiation ritual.
The Delaware County native later died of fatal ethanol intoxication, with a blood-alcohol level of three times the legal limit.
"We believe Stone would be alive today if Senate Bill 126 had become law," Shari Foltz said.
She says the legislation would help by creating harsher penalties for those caught hazing others and encourage reporting it, something she and her husband say is desperately needed.
"In our opinion, we believe that each year these rituals are becoming riskier as each big brother escalates that activity to outperform others," Shari Foltz said.
Cory Foltz believes any hazing needs to have stricter penalties in order to stop people from engaging in it.
"If hazing causes death or serious injuries, these kids need to know their behavior will follow them for a long time," he said.
The bill also calls for more education and universities to create strict anti-hazing policies, something the Foltz family is already doing with BGSU leaders.
"There should be zero tolerance at all universities," Shari Foltz said. "This will only help with the situation and along with the education piece of it, we believe that it has to be out there so it is impactful."
Cory Foltz also added there needs to be more transparency on groups like PIKE and if they have a history of bad behavior, so parents and students can be better informed.
"If there was transparency that PIKE had a history of issues or hazing, that would've been transparent to him or we would've been able to research it," he said.
They hope the bill is passed before school returns to help deter hazing from happening to anyone ever again.
Foltz's roommate and best friend Wade McKenzie, who found him in their apartment and called 911, also testified, saying hazing can no longer be treated as a minor offense.
If the committee recommends the bill, it goes to the Senate for a vote and if passed, to the House for the same process before it can reach the governor's desk to sign.