Here's one to put in the calendar. On Saturday October 16, Ben will be working…
Sheridan Hendrix The Columbus Dispatch
Rep. David Leland, a Columbus Democrat, said that Collin’s Law will broaden the definition of hazing so that more people will be aware of its dangers and ultimately create a culture change. “Everyone agrees that hazing is unacceptable and intolerable. It is something we don’t condone, It must never be excused or rationalized. it serves no end and serves no legitimate purpose. it is not justifiable and it is not harmless,” Leland said. “Hazing must stop, and for it to stop we must change the culture. We believe this legislation will change that culture.”
In a Facebook post Friday morning, Kathleen Wiant wrote that she was “nervous as hell” to drive down to the Ohio Statehouse to see if the anti-hazing bill she had been advocating for the past two years would pass a vote on the House floor.
It had been close to becoming a state law last General Assembly, and Wiant said then that seeing the bill stall in a Senate committee was heartbreaking. She hadn’t come this far to see that happen again.
Her nerves finally subsided as she saw the final vote tallied up: Collin’s Law was unanimously approved by the Ohio House of Representatives.
Senate Bill 126, better known as “Collin’s Law: Ohio’s Anti-Hazing Act,” would create harsher penalties for hazing, a statewide curriculum for college students about hazing and more transparency at the university level. With the full House’s approval, Collin’s Law is one step away from becoming state law.
In a rare act of bipartisan support, representatives twice stood and applauded Kathleen Wiant, who was sitting in the gallery during the session.
Collin’s Law makes hazing a felony
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, who has publicly endorsed stiffer criminal penalties for hazing, is expected to sign the bill into law as early as next week. Collin’s Law would make Ohio the 11th state in the nation to make hazing a felony.
“Hazing shall not and cannot be tolerated in any form,” said Rep. Haraz Ghanbari, a Republican from Perrysburg.
Ghanbari represents the Wood County community where officials say Bowling Green State University sophomore Stone Foltz died as the result of a hazing ritual in March. Collin’s Law was reintroduced days after Foltz’s death, sparking a new urgency among Ohio’s lawmakers to pass anti-hazing legislation.https://97ab2200dd208befa429dc879f4fd757.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html
Ghanbari noted that Collin’s Law was approved out of the House of Representatives’ Criminal Justice committee with zero opponents and was unanimously approved by the Senate last week.
Rep. David Leland, a Columbus Democrat, said that Collin’s Law will broaden the definition of hazing so that more people will be aware of its dangers and ultimately create a culture change.
“Everyone agrees that hazing is unacceptable and intolerable. It is something we don’t condone, It must never be excused or rationalized. it serves no end and serves no legitimate purpose. it is not justifiable and it is not harmless,” Leland said. “Hazing must stop, and for it to stop we must change the culture. We believe this legislation will change that culture.”
University officials and lawmakers said their hope is the harsher penalties would be a deterrent for college students returning to campus this fall and when Greek life organizations begin their annual recruitment activities.
Collin Wiant’s family have fought for change since 2018 death at Ohio University
The bill is named for Kathleen’s son Collin Wiant, an Ohio University freshman from Dublin who died after collapsing on the floor of an unofficial, off-campus fraternity house on Nov. 12, 2018. His family later learned that he had been aggressively hazed in the weeks leading up to his death.
Kathleen and her husband, Wade Wiant, have worked closely with lawmakers on anti-hazing legislation since shortly after Collin’s death. https://www.usatodaynetworkservice.com/tangstatic/html/ncod/sf-q1a2z3be0d353f.min.html
New consequences, prevention measures for hazing
Collin’s Law would make criminal punishments more severe for those who haze and would expand the definition of hazing in Ohio to include the forced consumption of drugs and alcohol. Currently in Ohio, hazing is a fourth-degree misdemeanor, which is comparable to not paying a speeding ticket.
Under Collin’s Law, general hazing would be increased to a second-degree misdemeanor and any hazing involving drugs or alcohol would become a third-degree felony. Third-degree felonies in Ohio typically carry sentences of nine to 36 months in prison and up to $10,000 in fines. Second-degree misdemeanors can result in a 60-jail sentence and up to $500 in fines.
A new penalty for failing to report a hazing offense involving physical harm would result in a first-degree misdemeanor charge. Offenders could be sentences to 180 days in jail and up to $1,000 in fines.
The law also would create statewide anti-hazing education for college students and increase transparency by requiring schools to post an organizations’ hazing infractions on their websites.
For Kathleen Wiant, the passage of Collin’s Law brought mixed emotions.
“I’m beyond thrilled we have this in place to protect Ohio students this fall and moving forward,” she said. “The reality that even this can’t bring Collin back is heartbreaking.”