Kent State expresses support of Ohio’s Anti-Hazing Act, Collin’s Law

Vice President for Student Affairs Lamar Hylton. 

Raygene English

Governor Mike DeWine is scheduled to sign the Anti-Hazing act known as Collin’s Law Tuesday, which will make Ohio the 11th state to make hazing a felony. 

Collin’s Law, which is also known as Ohio’s Anti-Hazing Act, will increase criminal penalties for hazing of any kind which includes forced consumption of alcohol or drugs. It will also widen the scope of who can receive punishment for participating in or allowing hazing.

In March, Kent State formally showed support for the singing of Collin’s Law, named after Collin Wiant, a former Ohio University student who died due to hazing, by sending in a formal letter.

Sen. Stephanie Kunze became the primary sponsor of Collin’s Law when the Wiant family sought to prevent hazing deaths. Due to COVID-19, the bill was delayed until early December 2020. Kunze worked with several universities in regards to ironing out the details of the bill that would create transparency from an educational standpoint. 

Kunze worked with Senate President Matt Huffman and the Legislative Service Commission to draft up the bill and let them know her intentions for the bill.

“I told the Wiant Family that my intention for this General Assembly was to introduce a standalone bill called Collins law that only focused on the collegiate hazing aspect,” Kunze said. “Not that the K-12 education bullying part isn’t as important as well, but I felt like it was just two big issues, and maybe separating them out would be able to move the collegiate portion more quickly in this General Assembly.” 

Kunze received the draft of the bill in March, the same week Bowling Green State University student Stone Foltz died because of hazing. At that point, Kunze and Sen. Theresa Gavarone decided to join forces and introduce the Ohio SB 126 known as Collin’s Law, the week after Foltz’s death.

As for what’s next for Collin’s Law and where it stands Kunze said she hopes the bill will be signed by Gov. DeWine and go into effect 90 days later, coinciding with the start of the fall semester for college campuses.

The bill passed through the House Jun 25, 2021 and now is waiting to be signed by Gov. DeWine as the final step toward a future where penalization will be in place for hazing.

Kent State University’s Assistant Directors for Fraternity & Sorority Life Jessica Roshak and Dennis Campbell could not be reached for comment in regards to how Collin’s Law will affect Greek life if signed by Gov. DeWine.

Lamar Hylton, the Vice President of Student Affairs at Kent State University, submitted a statement in support of Collin’s Law on behalf of the university. Hylton said the signing of the bill will open the door for hazing prevention and response education and training on campus. 

“Hazing is pervasive on many college and university campuses and the Collin’s Law anti-hazing act will certainly allow for there to be deeper engagement on our respective campuses in a variety of different ways,” Hylton said. “The law will strengthen that ability to handle those situations, more strongly than what they are able to do right now.”

Hylton said students who choose to participate in Greek life at Kent State should see Collin’s Law as an opportunity to continue to be against hazing practices. 

“Obviously [fraternities and sororities are] not the only body of students who is impacted by this hazing legislation, but it is certainly one of the primary student bodies or bodies of students,” he said. “With the passage of this bill, it will remind students who are seeking membership in the fraternity and sorority system as well as those who are already members the importance of not being a part of a community that participates in hazing practices.”

Hylton said he hopes the bill will also remind fraternities and sororities at Kent State about the values that drive each of the chapters and organizations on campus.

“We already have great education and training that happens for chapter officers and for council leadership, and so this bill will strengthen those already existing efforts, and maybe even allow for new efforts to emerge,” Hylton said. “I’m hopeful that it has a positive impact not only on our fraternity and sorority community but our overall university student body as well.”

Raygene English is a reporter. Contact her at [email protected]