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Colleges now must enforce ‘Collin’s law’

For too long, colleges have had a look-the-other-way mentality when it came to fraternity (and sorority) hazing. For generations, these practices have gone beyond simple bullying of students or stunts to prove “worthiness” for joining — though that is bad enough. Hazing too often moves into dangerous and even deadly territory, with multiple students dying in their quest to fit in.

State lawmakers finally are taking this problem seriously, with tougher criminal penalties set to take effect in the state this fall. Gov. Mike DeWine signed “Collin’s Law” last week.

Named after 18-year-old Ohio University freshman Collin Wiant, who died in 2018 after ingesting nitrous oxide in a hazing incident while pledging to Sigma Pi, the Associated Press reported the law will make hazing violations second-degree misdemeanors and those violations involving drugs or alcohol a third-degree felony punishable with prison time. The measure also will require that colleges provide anti-hazing training, and adhere to some transparency / accountability measures.

Wiant’s mother championed the bill in honor of her son. But her son is not the first death, nor should it have taken this long for lawmakers to take action. Another Ohio college student, Stone Foltz, died in March from alleged hazing by Pi Kappa Alpha. His parents must join Wiant’s in championing the cause behind this bill.

We cannot afford to look the other way. Should Collin’s Law not prove prohibitive, lawmakers must do more.

Hazing isn’t just a harmless prank — waved away with a “boys will be boys” or “they’re just college kids having fun” excuse. It can kill.

While lawmakers are to be commended for beginning to take hazing seriously, it is now up to colleges and universities, fraternities and sororities and all students finally to take seriously that no student should be dying to fit in.

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