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Has the Stone Foltz hazing death case affected the way new BGSU students think about fraternities?

WTOL 11 went to Bowling Green State University during move-in week to see how the fatal hazing incident has affecting the way new students think about Greek life.

BOWLING GREEN, Ohio — Students are moving back to campus at Bowling Green State University this week, just as two of the former BGSU fraternity brothers convicted in the 2021 hazing death of Stone Foltz are sentenced.

WTOL 11 headed to campus Wednesday to talk with arriving new students about how the case and BGSU's efforts to root out hazing among student organizations has affected their plans to join fraternities or sororities.

Foltz, a 20-year-old sophomore from the Columbus area, died in March, 2021, after a Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity hazing ritual at an off-campus house.

Freshmen Conner Jones, Jack Vance and Leo Ravanelli said they are excited to start their collegiate journey. 

"Really, finding new friends, that's definitely something exciting," Ravanelli "Joining new clubs. I am nervous about the same things."

It's a fresh start for many on campus. BGSU also is working to create its own fresh start while still healing healing after Foltz's March, 2021 death.

The university has enacted reforms that officials believe will better protect students from hazing and recently hosted an anti-hazing summit on campus.

Members of fraternities and sororities on campus say they're proud about how the university has responded to Foltz's death by taking preventative measures and listening to both to students who belong to Greek organizations and those who do not. 

New students arriving this year were split on whether they would like to join a Greek organization.

"It's definitely a tragedy, but I'm undecided," Jones said. "I don't know. But, I'm still open to it."

Vance, however, said he is not interested in Greek life.

"Definitely turned off right now," Vance said. 

The case has challenged freshman like Abigayle Zimmerman to prepare more consider the choice carefully. She said she plans to ask the sororities she's interested in more questions about their intake process.  

"I'm definitely interested in doing recruitment and I'm thinking about it," Zimmerman said. 

Although Vance said he's against being part of Greek life, for now at least, he knows there are good aspects to fraternity membership.  

"Like charities and GPAs, not everything is bad," Vance said. "But that was pretty bad."

Jones said that adjusting to college life is a challenge. Deciding whether to join a fraternity is not a top priority for him now, he said.

"As a new student, it's kind of intimidating, because, you know, all the changes of life," he said. "I may need more time."

Zimmerman said she spoke with her mom about the case and they've had conversations about Greek organizations at BGSU.

 "She's definitely reminding me, but she's really not worried," Zimmerman said. "If that makes sense. But, she's definitely like,'Be careful and ask questions."

In April 2021, BGSU permanently banned PIKE from campus after the fraternity was found to have engaged in a pattern of hazing over a number of years.

BGSU administrators expelled three students and suspended 18 others after Stone's death.

Eight defendants faced charges in Stone's death. Six of them took plea deals, two others were convicted. Those two were sentenced Wednesday to 42 days in jail plus probation to follow.

On Aug. 2, BGSU hosted the first Ohio anti-hazing summit, where cultural changes and incident reporting were emphasized.

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