COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH)–Ohio’s anti-hazing bill – known as Collin’s Law – will go into effect Thursday.
For those who worked to make the law a reality, the road has been a long one and one which they wished they never had to travel in the first place.
“Tomorrow, the best way I can think to describe it is bittersweet,” said Sean Alto, an attorney for the Wiant family. “You know, you’ve got a law that’s going to make Ohio safer. There’s no doubt in mind about that. It’s going to make it safer for every single student that goes off to college. But it is the effort – three years of effort – by a lot of people.”
Collin Wiant died in a hazing incident in 2018 while a pledge at the Sigma Pi fraternity at Ohio University.
Wiant died inside the Sigma Pi fraternity house on November 12, 2018, shortly after a 911 call was made.
His body was found around drug paraphernalia, including canisters of nitrous oxide. A toxicology report shows that Wiant died of asphyxiation due to nitrous oxide ingestion.
According to police reports, the illegal drugs containing nitrous oxide that caused Wiant’s death was provided and forced on Wiant by members of the Sigma Pi fraternity.
“Until young folks truly understand the consequences of their actions, the fight’s not over,” Alto said.
Because of Collin’s law, those consequences have been increased.
“The risk of serious physical harm is now a felony offense. Also, anything to do with alcohol or drugs – that can be punished and charged as a felony which can result in serious prison time for the offender,” Alto said. “You could be thrown into prison. You could be kicked out of school. You could find it difficult to get into another educational institution. It’s going to follow you, your whole life.”
The law also requires colleges and universities to have hazing awareness and prevention training, something Ohio University launched this week.
Alto said that’s because it’s not just students that need to be held accountable.
“Universities need to be accountable for their actions. They need to make sure that when there are reports, that they’re being fully and thoroughly investigated to make sure that they get to the bottom of what happened. And absolutely need to be instituting a zero-tolerance policy that if they’re found to be engaged in conduct, you’re out,” he said.
Ohio University declined to discuss their new hazing training and Collin’s Law.
We asked a university spokesperson what the consequences of not completing the hazing prevention training would be.
According to that spokesperson, “Any student who does not complete the educational program may not participate in an organization or group on campus including groups/organizations, athletics teams, intramural sports, and/or musical ensembles until the training is complete. Continued failure to complete the training may result in a referral to the community standards process.
For all others, failure to comply with policy 23.010 will be addressed through the appropriate University disciplinary process based on an individual’s classification. Disciplinary action may vary, up to and including termination of employment or the individual’s volunteer position.”
CORRECTION: The anti-hazing bill known as Collin’s Law will go into effect Oct. 7, not a different date as previously reported. This story has been updated with the corrected information.