Local fraternity members react to ‘Collin’s Law’ anti-hazing bill

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FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine signed Senate Bill 126, also known as “Collin’s Law,” on Tuesday. The law increases criminal penalties for hazing in Ohio.

“This is really a question a culture,” said Gov. DeWine. “And for decades, the culture of hazing has been accepted as something that is tolerated. This bill says that going forward, hazing in the state of Ohio is simply not tolerated.”

The bill is named for Collin Wiant, who died in a hazing incident in 2018 while pledging at the Sigma Pi fraternity at Ohio University. Momentum for it grew after Bowling Green State University student Stone Foltz died last March following another alleged fraternity hazing.

Members of Indiana Tech’s chapter of Sigma Phi Epsilon in Fort Wayne said that while Collin’s Law was passed in Ohio, it is expected to lead to more accountability by fraternities at all levels.

“I speak for my fraternity when I say that Collin’s Law is a necessary balance to the negative actions that have been taken by misguided fraternities,” said Sigma Phi Epsilon President Patrick Stevenson.

“The fact that some cultures have devolved to hazing, especially to the level we see now, is something that must be addressed very seriously and I think that Collin’s Law approaches it correctly.”

Collin’s Law makes a number of changes, including:

  • Expands the definition of hazing and specifies that hazing may include “coercing another to consume alcohol or a drug of abuse.”
  • Increases the penalty for hazing to a 2nd degree misdemeanor.
  • Expands the list of officials required to report hazing.
  • Widens the scope of those who can be punished for participating in or permitting hazing. (A violation that results in serious harm is a 3rd degree felony.)
  • Requires that those aware of hazing report it to authorities, with penalties up to a 1st degree misdemeanor for failing to do so.
  • Requires the Ohio Department of Higher Education to implement a statewide anti-hazing plan.
  • Requires staff and volunteers at colleges and universities to undergo training on hazing awareness and prevention.

Tucker Cormier, another Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity member, said although hazing isn’t a problem at Indiana Tech, he hopes other states, such as Indiana, follow suit. Indiana criminal law currently classifies hazing as Class B misdemeanor criminal recklessness.

“I would, not because we want to try and kill any fun, but because it would at least help [fraternities] paint themselves as a more professional group,” said Cormier “There does need to be some rules to the game applied. There needs to be a line in the sand. Having this I think will help draw a line.”

WANE 15 reached out to the Indiana Attorney General’s office to see if there are plans for Indiana to propose a similar law and has not heard back.

Collin’s Law will go into effect in 90 days.

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