Hazing in Ohio is currently a fourth-degree misdemeanor, which is the second-lowest level of crime charged in Ohio. However, Ohio Senate Bill 126, better known as Collin’s Law, which is a new Bill designed to deter hazing, was unanimously passed in the Ohio House a few weeks ago. Last week, Ohio Governor, Mike Dewine signed the Bill which will go into effect in early October.
The law is named in honor of Collin Wiant, an 18-year-old freshman who passed away in the Fall of 2018 at Ohio University during a hazing ritual. Collin’s Law states that no person shall recklessly participate in the hazing of another. According to the Bill, the legal definition of hazing is: doing any act or coercing another, including the victim, to do any act of initiation into any student or other organization or any act to continue or reinstate membership in or affiliation with any student or other organization that causes or creates a substantial risk of causing mental or physical harm to any person, including coercing another to consume alcohol or a drug of abuse (as defined in section 3719.011 of the Revised Code).
Collin’s Law creates harsher penalties for hazing by stating that anyone who violates this law is guilty of hazing. Section 2903.31 states that no person shall recklessly participate in the hazing of another. It also states that no administrator, employee, faculty member, teacher, consultant, alumnus, or volunteer of any organization, including any primary, secondary, or post-secondary school or any other educational institution, public or private, shall recklessly permit the hazing of any person associated with the organization. Any violation of this section is a second-degree misdemeanor. This section of the Bill declares that violation can turn into a third-degree felony when the hazing includes coerced consumption of alcohol or drugs of abuse resulting in serious physical harm to the other person.
Collin’s Law also requires all acting officials to report hazing incidents to law enforcement immediately upon knowledge. Failing to do so is a fourth-degree misdemeanor, except if the hazing causes serious physical harm, then the violation is a first-degree misdemeanor.
Sec. 3333.0417 of Collin’s Law states that the Chancellor of the Ohio Department of Higher Education must develop a statewide educational plan for hazing prevention at colleges and universities that each institution is required to implement.
This plan must include:
A Model Anti-Hazing Policy.
Guidelines regarding anti-hazing education and training for:
The Model Anti-Hazing Policy must include:
Rules prohibiting hazing.
A method to enforce the policy.
Appropriate penalties for violations of the policy, which may include any of the following:
Each institution must provide a copy of the policy and method to enforce the policy to each organization within the institution. They must also post the policy on the institution’s public website for all to access. Starting in 2022, each institution will be required to maintain a report of all hazing incidents and post it to their public website for all to access.
Each report must include the following information:
The name of the subject of the report.
The date when the subject of the report was charged with a violation of the institution’s policy or other state law regarding hazing.
A general description of the violation, any investigation and findings by the institution, and any penalties imposed on the subject of the report.
The date on which the matter was resolved.
Lastly, each institution must provide students, staff, and organizational leaders with an educational program on hazing which includes information on hazing awareness, prevention education, and the institution’s policy. Institutions must verify each student’s attendance of the program. If a student does not attend the program, they will not be able to participate in an organization recognized by the institution.
All but six states have anti-hazing laws in place. This new law will make Ohio the 14th state to make hazing a felony when resulting in death or serious injury, followed by: Florida, California, Wisconsin, Indiana, Utah, Texas, Missouri, Illinois, Michigan, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Louisiana, and New Jersey. To see where your state stands, take a look at the Stop Hazing’s interactive map that details each state’s policy.
This topic is becoming more important now than ever before due to the severity over the last decade. With more states taking a stand and educating their colleges and universities on the consequences of hazing, we will hopefully see a massive decline in the next decade.
Hazing Prevention Education and Training
Vector Solutions can help you provide powerful education and training to faculty, staff, and students through our Vector LMS, Higher Education Platform:
Anonymous Reporting Through Vector LiveSafe
Vector LiveSafe empowers faculty, staff, and students to play a role in their institution's safety and security efforts. Vector LiveSafe provides students with the ability to quickly submit tips, anonymously or not, that are routed to the designated campus officials. Students can quickly report hazing incidents to designated officials and include pictures, videos, location data, and more.