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Ohio Passes Sweeping Anti-Hazing Law Aimed at Colleges and Universities

In the wake of hazing-related deaths at two Ohio universities, Governor Mike DeWine signed Collin’s Law: The Ohio Anti-Hazing Act on July 6, 2021. That law—which goes into effect in early October and is named after Collin Wiant, a student who died during his freshman year at Ohio University—increases penalties for hazing and requires institutions of higher education to take efforts aimed to prevent hazing, among other things.

Hazing Crimes

Collin’s Law first expands the definition of “hazing” supplied by section 2903.31 of the Ohio Revised Code to include “coercing another to consume alcohol or a drug of abuse.” It then increases the penalties for hazing. Previously, hazing was a fourth-degree misdemeanor; now it is a second-degree misdemeanor or, in cases involving “coerced consumption,” a third-degree felony. It also imposes criminal liability on schools and certain individuals who fail to report hazing to law enforcement. The failure to report is a fourth-degree misdemeanor, but that increases to a first-degree misdemeanor if the hazing results in serious physical harm.

Statewide Educational Plan

Collin’s Law also requires the Department of Higher Education to develop a statewide plan to prevent hazing at institutions of higher education. That plan must include a model anti-hazing policy and guidelines for anti-hazing education and training. On the day Governor DeWine signed Collin’s Law, The Columbus Dispatch reported that the department “has already begun working with university presidents to create a statewide anti-hazing plan, as well as hazing awareness and prevention trainings.”

Requirements of Institutions of Higher Education

Finally, Collin’s Law requires institutions of higher education to take additional anti-hazing measures. To start, each institution must develop an anti-hazing policy prohibiting its students and individuals associated with sanctioned organizations—including fraternities, sororities, and athletic teams—from engaging in hazing. That policy must include rules prohibiting hazing, enforcement mechanisms, and penalties, including levying fines, withholding diplomas or transcripts, revoking permission to operate on campus, and imposing probation, suspension, dismissal, or expulsion. The law also includes provisions requiring each institution to distribute its policy and, beginning with the 2022–2023 school year, to maintain a report of violations of its policy. Lastly, the law mandates that each institution provide anti-hazing educational programs to its students and anti-hazing training to staff and volunteers.

Put simply, Collin’s Law requires institutions of higher education to take further efforts to promote anti-hazing policies and expands criminal liability for hazing. While that law does not go into effect until October, institutions of higher education should begin working toward compliance with these new requirements before the new school year begins.

© Steptoe & Johnson PLLC. All Rights Reserved.National Law Review, Volume XI, Number 195
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About this Author

Dallas Kratzer Litigation Attorney Steptoe Johnson Ohio
Of Counsel

Dallas Kratzer cut his teeth in the courts, working for five years in the federal courts, including the Fourth and Sixth Circuits of the United States Courts of Appeals.  An avid lacrosse player, Dallas is as competitive on the field as in the courtroom and knows how important it is to understand and predict how  his opponent will behave.  As a law clerk, Dallas gained valuable insight into the “inside baseball” of the court system, as well as the most efficient and effective way to present a position and make a convincing argument.  Clients appreciate that Dallas can...

(614) 458-9827
Nelva Smith, Workers Compensation Attorney, Steptoe Johnson Law Firm
Associate

Nelva Smith practices in the area of labor and employment law.  Prior to receiving her Juris Doctorate, she was a legal assistant with Scott, Scriven & Wahoff LLP, and was a third party workers’ compensation claims adjuster.  Ms. Smith is experienced representing and defending employers against workers’ compensation claims and defending employers in OSHA matters throughout the United States, as well as charges filed with the Ohio Civil Rights Commission and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. 

614-456-1656
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