Family of student killed in Ohio University hazing case pushes for change

Midwest

COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Just a little more than two years after their son Collin Wiant died while attending Ohio University, his parents Kathleen and Wade Wiant are fighting for change at the Ohio Statehouse.

“We’ve all experienced such pain and loss from this and we don’t want another family to suffer such a senseless tragic loss,” said Kathleen Wiant. .

Collin Wiant died in November 2018 at an off-campus fraternity house. A toxicology report shows that Wiant died of asphyxiation due to nitrous oxide ingestion. At the time of his death, Wiant was a pledge of the Epsilon Chapter of Sigma Pi.

Several people were charged in connection with his death, which is when Collin’s parents found hazing is only considered a fourth-degree misdemeanor in Ohio.

“The punishment doesn’t fit the crime,” said Wade Wiant, Collin’s father.

Now, his parents are hoping to put a stop to the hazing they believe led to their son’s death. House Bill 310, or Collin’s Law, addresses bullying and hazing.

“We know it will save lives now and we know that every day students are being hazed right now and we just can’t sit by and wait for other deaths to happen until we decide it’s one death too many,” Kathleen Wiant said.

The bill creates a system for reporting and punishment of bullying in Ohio’s schools and increases the punishment for hazing. When drugs and alcohol are involved, the bill would make hazing a felony.

“First of all, hazing, first of all, is horrible, but if you’re going to use drugs or alcohol which is prevalent in a lot of cases, you will be convicted of a felony and you will have that on your record for the rest of your life,” said Rep. Dave Greenspan, (R-Westlake), sponsor of HB 310.

The bill has already passed the Ohio House of Representatives and has been referred to the Senate Education committee. Committee chairperson Sen. Peggy Lehner’s office said she “does indeed plan to hold hearings on House Bill 310. This will most likely take place next week.”

Collin’s parents would like to see an amendment to the bill that would require clubs, teams and organizations to report any violations of code of conduct. They say a requirement like that would have kept Collin from joining the fraternity in the first place.

“If we had that when Collin was rushing Sigma Pi fraternity at Ohio University two years ago, we would have seen that Sigma Pi was placed on probation a few years prior for hazing specifically,” Kathleen Wiant said.

Collin’s Law has until the end of the year — when the legislative session comes to an end — to pass the Senate. Wade and Kathleen said this could be a life-or-death issue.

“The quicker we can act, the quicker that we can get legislation out there and passed and signed into law by Governor DeWine, the quicker we can save some lives,” Wade Wiant said.

You can read the full bill below:

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