COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A week after the state enacted an anti-hazing law in honor of an Ohio University student who died in 2018, the university suspended another fraternity for allegedly violating hazing rules.
The Athens-based school sent the fraternity a notice Tuesday that it will be suspended for four years following an investigation by the school that revealed a pattern of student code of conduct violations.
The university found the Beta Chapter of Delta Tau Delta committed nine violations, including selling and distributing alcohol, reckless behavior and coerced consumption of alcohol, according to a statement from Dr. Jenny Hall-Jones, interim vice president of student affairs. It's not clear what prompted the investigation.
Members of the fraternity are prohibited from joining other fraternities on campus or starting their own, the school said. The fraternity will be eligible to apply for reinstatement in 2025.
The suspension follows Gov. Mike DeWine's signing of a bill into law last week that put in place tougher penalties for hazing at Ohio universities and colleges starting this fall.
“Collin’s Law,” is named after Collin Wiant, an 18-year-old Ohio University freshman who died in 2018 after ingesting nitrous oxide at a different fraternity house, which was expelled in May 2019.
The legislation had stalled during previous sessions, but bipartisan efforts to pass it were renewed following the death of Bowling Green State University student Stone Foltz of alcohol poisoning in March. Seven current or former Bowling Green State fraternity members have pleaded not guilty to various charges in Foltz' death.
Seven people from the Ohio University fraternity previously pleaded guilty to charges in Wiant's death.
“Collin was a protector by nature,” his mother, Kathleen Wiant, who championed the legislation since her son’s death, said at the July 6 signing ceremony. “I can think of no greater way to honor him than a law in his name designed for the sole purpose of protecting others.”
The law will go into effect in October and will elevate hazing violations to second-degree misdemeanors. It will make hazing involving forced consumption of drugs or alcohol that seriously harms someone a third-degree felony punishable with possible prison time.
The law will also require college campuses to provide anti-hazing training and online information about reported hazing violations.
“We can’t wait to get serious about this until we lose another child, until we lose another college student,” DeWine said last week when he signed the bill.
He added, "We’re going to get serious and say that hazing is wrong when there’s no deaths — when everyone wakes up the next morning — that still is wrong.”
Associated Press writer Kantele Franko contributed to this report. Amiri is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.