Almost 800 people attended the Zoom kick-off event Monday for a letter-writing campaign in support of Collin’s Law.
Numerous colleges participated in the event to discuss Collin’s Law and the letter-writing campaign, which will take place April 5 to April 9, being held to garner support for the law.
The event consisted of speakers including Ohio University Student Senate President Ian Carter II, Vice President of Development for Ohio University's Women's Panhellenic Association Molly Davis, Collin Wiant’s mother Kathleen Wiant, State Sen. Stephanie Kunze and State Sen. Theresa Gavarone as well as several student speakers from various Ohio colleges.
Carter opened the event with a moment of silence for those who lost their lives to hazing and addressed the topic of the event.
“This is an event led by students who are advocating for the health and safety of themselves and their peers,” Carter said. “While we may typically poke fun at one another’s school, we have come together as a state for a cause we care about an effort to create change.”
Kathleen Wiant was introduced by Davis and shared her story about her son Collin Wiant’s death and how it has impacted her.
“I was sound asleep in my bed, and I heard a knock at the door in the middle of the night. I went down to answer, and there were two policemen there and the third man in plain clothing,” Kathleen Wiant said. “They stepped in the house, and began reciting the worst words any parent could ever have to hear: ‘On behalf of the Dublin Police Department, we regret to inform you that at 3 a.m. this morning, your son Collin Wiant was found unresponsive at 45 Mill St. in Athens, Ohio.’”
Kathleen Wiant proceeded to explain the hazing details that led to Collin Wiant’s death.
“Months later, we began to learn details that lead up to Collin’s death, and we learned that for the last few weeks of Collins' life, Collin had been beaten, he had been belted, he had been waterboarded, he had been forced drugs, he had experienced extreme hazing,” Kathleen Wiant said.
Sen. Kunze and Sen. Gavarone took their time to educate those in attendance about the updates to the bill.
Of the new requirements, anti-hazing education, increased penalties for those that are involved in hazing incidents and transparency from colleges on instances of hazing are of utmost importance. However, changing the culture of hazing in higher education is the main priority, Kunze said.
“Imagine if I brought two people before you and I told you that they were both guilty of a misdemeanor offense, but one of them had a parking ticket and the other one made someone chug an entire bottle of hard alcohol, didn't allow (them) to sleep for long periods of time, forced (them) to do illegal drugs, risking injury or even death,” Kathleen Wiant said. “Under the current Ohio law, both are considered fourth degree misdemeanors, both punishable by fine.”
Megan Stoops, University of Toledo Panhellenic Council president, provided those in attendance with an email letter template. Those that participate in the letter-writing campaign will have a chance to fill out the template and provide a personal story or anecdote about hazing or explain why Collin’s law is important to them to their respective state senator.
“It's very hard for us to know that pledging a fraternity to belong when you're in a new stage of your life — a new place in your life — is what ended his life. All this hazing was done in the name of brotherhood, and there's no place in brotherhood or sisterhood for hazing,” Kathleen Wiant said. “Collin’s death was senseless and it was tragic, but what's most painful to me is that it was completely avoidable.”