Collin’s Law training program teaches hazing prevention for Greek life and student organizations

The Interfraternity Council is located within the Ohio Union and overseas of 30 Ohio State member organizations. Credit: Mackenzie Shanklin | photo editor

As Greek Life Chapters wrap up recruiting and student organizations band together for the return from in-person meetings, Sisterhood and Fraternal Life in the Office of Student Life and all members of student organizations must undergo Collin’s Law training.

Collin’s Law, effective October 7, 2021, is an Ohio law that increases penalties for hazing behavior, said Will Cangialosi, chapter services coordinator for Sorority and Fraternity Life. The bill was first introduced in 2019 after the hazing death of Ohio University student Collin Wiant and reintroduced in the Ohio Senate. March 102021, following the death of Stone Foltz, a student at Bowling Green State University, in an alleged hazing incident.

“Previously, being found responsible for hazing in the state of Ohio was like getting a speeding ticket,” Cangialosi said. “We’ve seen penalties increase for people who are found hazing.”

Cangialosi said Collin’s Law makes alcohol or drug-related hazing a third-degree felony, as well as a second-degree misdemeanor in the absence of alcohol or drugs.

In combating the problem of hazing, Ryan Lovell, associate dean of students at the Office of Student Life, said the practice has been around for as long as colleges have existed. But that did not deter efforts to arrest him.

“You’ve had organizations and people who want to belong to organizations, you have power dynamics in organizations and unfortunately that’s led to people abusing some of those power dynamics for others who want to join,” Lovell said. “We continue to try to look at data and trends to get the insights we need to better manage the power dynamics that exist.”

Lovell said the rise of social media has likely helped bring some hazing issues to light, but it’s generally difficult to gauge whether or not hazing has increased.

“Ohio State has 1,300 student organizations now, it probably had 500 15 years ago, so is hazing better or worse?” said Lovell. “There were also things that had an impact, like social media. I’m sure 30 years ago it was much easier to hide these things.

Cangialosi said Collin’s Law training was not intended to deter students from joining Greek Life and Ohio State student organizations. The first part of the student education is a conversation about involvement in Ohio State and the benefits of inclusion.

After the first stage, there are four different categories of training that students will go through, Cangialosi said.

Hazing awareness training covers definitions of what constitutes hazing in college and in the eyes of the law, Cangialosi said. This part of the training also clarifies that hazing can occur in any organization, whether affiliated with Sorority and Fraternity Life or not.

Cangialosi said the next part of the training deals with three types of hazing: bullying, harassment and violence. He said students often associate violence with hazing, so the other two aren’t as recognized as hazing behavior.

After reviewing the different types of hazing, students will learn more about preventing hazing. Cangialosi said this is approached from both the perspective of members and leaders within the organization, answering questions about how students can assess an environment for safety and avoid hazing behaviors.

The final stage of training is intervention, Cangialosi said. This part focuses on how to intervene when a classmate is being hazed.

Along with the training, students receive local and national resources and information on how to report hazing, Cangialosi said.

Lovell said this training is currently delivered via Zoom, but the goal is to make the program more convenient for students by converting it to a fully online format in the future.

“Ultimately, we are looking to move them to an online platform, similar to other training that students or teaching staff can take to make it more convenient and to make it more conducive to opportunity for all students to follow her,” Lovell said.

For more information on hazing, training, or frequently asked questions, visit the student conduct website.

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