DeWine, universities launch hazing crackdown

University presidents stood shoulder to shoulder with Gov. Mike DeWine Monday at the Ohio Statehouse to show their resolve to stop hazing on college campuses.

It follows passage of a new law that cracks down on hazing with tough penalties for anyone caught doing it, even if there are no serious injuries from the incident.

Passage of the bill came after the death of Stone Foltz, a student at Bowling Green State University earlier this year and Collin Wiant, a student at Ohio University who died in 2018. Both were victims of fraternity hazing.

Foltz’s mother, Shari Foltz, joined lawmakers in announcing the policies on campuses required by the new law. “The intent here is to send a clear message. You haze, you’re expelled and if you’re part of an organized group, that group is removed from campus as well,” Foltz said.

Under the new law, the state definition of hazing is expanded, and tougher penalties are included for those convicted of it.

Students convicted of hazing could face jail or prison time. Students convicted of hazing will not only be expelled, but they would be banned from all other public universities in Ohio.

The law goes far beyond just the campuses of Ohio University and Bowling Green State University where the death happened, it includes all public universities.

Central State University President Jack Thomas said his school has already been spreading the word on the new penalties for hazing.

“We do have a Dean of Students who has put correspondences out to the entire student body as well as from the President’s office. We want to let people know how serious this is and that we all stand in solidarity here,” Thomas said.

DeWine, who supported the legislation that created the new law, said the next step is more than just new legislation.

“Not only we need to change the law, we need to change the culture and to change culture is tough. But it is something we are going to change in this state,” DeWine said.

Incoming students headed to campuses for the first time this fall will receive special training to detect hazing and how to report it. Existing students will also receive special instruction on dealing with hazing.

The two students who died, both Wiant and Foltz, had been forced to drink large quantities of alcohol during parties related to fraternity initiation.