COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Gov. Mike DeWine signed Senate Bill 126, also known as Collin’s Law, at a ceremony Tuesday morning.
Collin’s Law, also known as Ohio’s Anti-Hazing Act, will increase criminal penalties for hazing, including for forced consumption of alcohol or drugs. It also widens the scope of who can be punished for participating in or permitting hazing.
“It’s something after it occurs, as long as no one dies, people kind of laugh and say, ‘Oh well, that’s just the way it is.’ What we’re saying today is that’s not just the way it is and that’s not acceptable anymore,” DeWine said.
The bill is named for Collin Wiant, who died in a hazing incident in 2018 while a pledge at the Sigma Pi fraternity at Ohio University.
In addition to harsher penalties, Collin’s Law comes with a transparency piece. Every six months, organizations will have to report any student conduct violations they’ve had, allowing students and families to see those reports.
“With that information, we would have said, ‘Look what we found, you’re not pledging this fraternity,'” Kathleen Wiant, Collin Wiant’s mother, said. “That piece alone, Collin would be alive today. That piece alone, Stone (Foltz) would be alive today.”
The bill was passed by the Ohio General Assembly in late June.
“I can say that it feels as fresh as it did about a month after Collin died,” Kathleen Wiant said when asked about finding closure.
DeWine was joined at the ceremony by Wiant’s parents, Kathleen and Wade Wiant, as well as Shari and Cory Foltz, parents of Stone Foltz.
Foltz, a 20-year-old from Delaware, Ohio, was a sophomore at Bowling Green. He died on March 4 after an alleged hazing incident at the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity.
“It’s hard like I said it’s only been four months, but we will continue to fight. Collin’s law is a step in the right direction but we are not done,” said Shari Foltz.
Rex Elliott, representing attorney for the Wiant and Foltz families, shared this statement:
“Laws protect us against abuses by other people and organizations. Without question, fraternities and their national organizations have gone unchecked for far too long. The creation and passage of Collin’s Law is a victory for young people and their families, but it’s only a first step. As a firm that represents multiple hazing victims, including Collin Wiant’s family, we won’t rest until hazing is eradicated for good — in Ohio and across the nation — for fraternities, athletic teams, and any organization that engages in any hazing practices. We are grateful to the legislators and Governor DeWine for taking action to make clear that any act of hazing has no place in our great State.”Rex Elliott, Cooper Elliott
“No matter what we do, even with all this work, nothing can bring him back, which is so hard and so painful,” Kathleen Wiant said. “But we also know this really is going to save lives and if we can spare another family from going through this, I would do anything.”