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'There cannot be any tolerance for hazing' | Collin's Law takes effect as Gov. DeWine tours BGSU

The push for anti-hazing legislation was spurred on by Stone Foltz's hazing death in March.

BOWLING GREEN, Ohio — Stricter penalties for hazing are now in place throughout Ohio as Collin's Law took effect Thursday.

The legislation elevates a general hazing charge to a second-degree misdemeanor, and aggravated hazing to a third-degree felony. The bill was reintroduced in March after the hazing death of Bowling Green State University student Stone Foltz, and signed by Gov. Mike DeWine in July.

DeWine toured BGSU's new nursing facility Thursday and commented on the legislation.

"This is a real message to fraternities across the state of Ohio - or any group - that hazing is not acceptable," DeWine said. "We've increased the penalty. The most important thing we can do is change the culture. It should not be acceptable or part of the culture to have hazing. Hazing can be lethal. We've seen it be deadly here at Bowling Green. We don't want to see a family go through that ever again."

RELATED: Ohio's anti-hazing bill goes into effect Oct. 7; 'Collin's Law' supporters hope it sends a message

Collin's Law was named after former Ohio University student Collin Wiant, who died after a hazing incident in 2018.

In March, Stone Foltz, 20, was at a Pi Kappa Alpha, or PIKE, new member initiation, where new members, known as "littles" and who were almost all underage, received "bigs" or mentors, who allegedly gave their littles high alcohol content liquor and instructed them to drink the whole bottle.

Foltz allegedly drank all or nearly all of the bottle given to him before he was dropped off at his apartment. Foltz was found by his roommate and other friends, who called 911.

The roommate performed CPR until EMS arrived. Foltz was taken to the Wood County Hospital and later to Toledo Hospital, where he died on March 7. 

RELATED: National Hazing Prevention Week shines light on work that remains in Ohio

The coroner said Foltz died of fatal ethanol intoxication. His blood alcohol content, or BAC, was 0.394, according to the family, who said it was likely even higher immediately after the alleged hazing ritual.

DeWine said all universities in the state will need to remain committed to combating hazing.

"You can't just focus on it when there's a tragedy," he said. "There cannot be any tolerance for hazing. Anyone associated with hazing needs to be off-campus - gone."

On July 30, BGSU expelled three students and suspended 17 others for their role in the incident following an investigation.

Eight men are facing charges stemming from Foltz's death. Niall Sweeney, of Sylvania, pleaded guilty last month to one count of felony tampering with evidence.

The other seven defendants pleaded not guilty to all charges. They are due back in court next week.

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