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Tougher anti-hazing legislation in Ohio introduced Wednesday

Since the death of Bowling Green State University student Stone Foltz, thousands are calling for the passage of Collin’s Law in Ohio.

A new version of Collin’s Law was introduced to Ohio’s General Assembly after it stalled in the Senate Education Committee in December.

State Sen. Stephanie Kunze (R-Hilliard) announced her plan to reintroduce the bill, alongside State Sen. Theresa Gavarone (R-Bowling Green), during a news conference Wednesday morning.

Collin’s Law would be the state’s new anti-hazing legislation if it passes, increasing penalties for those involved in hazing incidents on or off-campus to felonies. It would provide more education to parents and students regarding what hazing is and will increase transparency within institutions about past violations of conduct.

“It is my hope and it is my intention and that no other mother or family or community will have to grieve the loss of a loved one,” said Kunze. “We have a moral imperative to ensure our adult children are safe when they embark on what should be the most exciting and brightest times in their lives.”

Following the death of Stone Foltz Sunday, a sophomore at Bowling Green State University and graduate of Buckeye Valley High School, thousands have signed an online petition calling for the passage of this bill.

“I do believe we are going to have bipartisan support for this legislation,” said Gavarone. “I believe my colleague understand and are also devastated by the news. And we did get to hear testimony in the assembly, a concept a lot of legislators are already aware of.”

Sen. Kunze says she has been working with Kathleen Wiant since 2019 on what originally was called The Ohio anti-hazing and bullying act. At this time, the new version of the bill focuses on the hazing portion and has removed the bullying aspect.

Kathleen Wiant says she will continue pushing this bill in Ohio if she has to do it for the rest of her life.

Collin Wiant was 18-years-old when he collapsed at the Sigma Pi fraternity house at Ohio University in November 2018. Kathleen Wiant spoke at the news conference that she later found out her son was beaten, even waterboarded, the weeks leading up to his death.

“This bill is about changing where hazing is accepted and even expected. This bill is about saving lives,” said Wiant. “We don’t want another family to go through the pain and loss our family has experienced sadly another family has. The shocking death of Stone Foltz further underscores the importance of getting this bill passed and not having it stall like it did last November.”

Athens County Prosecutor Keller Blackburn said if it were to become a law, it would help prosecutors and even universities better investigate hazing incidents, even before someone is injured or killed.

“If you haze someone and hurt someone it should be a felony, there should be no doubt about that,” said Blackburn. “It’s time to stand up like these two senators have and say we are not going to protect institutions. We are going to protect Ohioans.”

After being introduced, the bill was assigned as Senate Bill 126.