COLUMBUS, Ohio — A pair of Ohio congressmen testified Tuesday on the importance of passing anti-hazing legislation for college campuses and other schools.
Rep. Michael Sheehy (D-Oregon) and Rep. Haraz Ghanbari (R-Perrysburg) testified in support of House Bill 205, known as Collin's Law: The Ohio Anti-Bullying and Hazing Act. The bill addressed the issue of school bullying and hazing throughout the state.
The legislation is co-sponsored by both congressmen. The hazing death of Bowling Green State University student Stone Foltz last month led to renewed calls for action.
“In just over two years, Ohioans mourned the tragic deaths of Collin Wiant and Stone Foltz, both of whom lost their lives as a result of hazing on college campuses," Sheehy said. “No student should have to endure such physical or mental abuse simply to join or continue their membership with a social organization. The Ohio House has a chance to protect our students at all levels of schooling in Ohio and demand accountability when these kinds of tragedies occur.”
Key provisions of the bill include:
- Requiring the Department of Education to develop evidence-based best practices regarding harassment, intimidation, and bullying;
- Requiring each school district, community school, and STEM school to adopt an “evidence-based” or “evidence-informed” policy regarding disciplinary actions against a student who commits an offense of bullying, harassment, or intimidation;
- Permitting districts and schools to provide counseling services, upon parental consent, for offenders and victims of bullying;
- Expanding the definition of hazing;
- Increasing penalties against those who recklessly participate in hazing that includes forced consumption of alcohol or drugs of abuse resulting in serious physical harm;
- Requiring officials and parents to immediately report to law enforcement the knowledge or reasonable cause to suspect that an individual has suffered or faces a threat of hazing.
“This bill is a necessary and well-constructed reform and expansion of current law that will go a long way to curb both bullying and hazing in the state of Ohio,” Ghanbari said. “Generally speaking, what this bill does is to broaden the definition of bullying and hazing victims and perpetrators and prescribes certain disciplinary actions.”
Tuesday was the first day of full testimony on H.B. 205 in the House Primary and Secondary Education Committee. A second hearing awaits.