Following the passing of Collin’s Law this summer, Ohio colleges and universities are now required to implement hazing education as well as prevent issues that allow hazing to continue. But Miami University has had a self-led Greek course since 2018, and at this time won’t be changing its requirements for Greek-affiliated students.
Collin Wiant died in November 2018 after being hazed while pledging the unofficial Sigma Pi fraternity at Ohio University (OU).
The new state law named in Wiant’s memory introduced sweeping reforms to Greek Life processes including increasing the penalties of hazing, requiring volunteers and university staff to undergo hazing prevention classes, and implementing a statewide anti-hazing plan.
According to Kim Vance, director of the Cliff Alexander Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life, Miami students who go through the Greek recruitment process must participate in three Canvas courses that cover a variety of topics such as alcohol and drug safety, leadership skills, appropriate behavior of the brother and sisterhood. The first two courses, introduced in 2018, were in response to reports of multiple hazing incidents.
The first course — an orientation module that goes through the new member process — is open to any student interested in getting involved and is completed before recruitment.
The second and third modules are completed after recruitment. The second covers social norms in Greek Life, alcohol safety and how to report a hazing incident. It also has a pre-test and a post-test that students must pass.
The third module focuses on leadership and responsibilities within sororities and fraternities. It covers how to be a socially responsible leader and how to hold other brothers and sisters accountable in social settings. It goes beyond hazing, focusing on how to prevent negative behavior outside of Greek Life.
It was supposed to be rolled out in 2020, but was put on pause due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The third module will be released this fall for members who went through the recruitment process last spring and will be used during the spring semester.
Miami’s International Fraternity Council (IFC) and Panhellenic Council also participate in the Step Up! Program with the HAWKS Peer Health Educators and are required to go to a convocation where students listen to a trained speaker talk about appropriate sisterhood and brotherhood behavior.
Vance is modifying Miami’s Greek organizations to follow requirements set forth by Collin’s Law. The main requirement to remain in compliance is education, which the Canvas modules satisfy.
“Miami already has some things in place that satisfy the spirit of the law, but also give us a good foundation to be able to expand things to the rest of the campus in compliance with the law,” Vance said.
Although Miami will not add an in-person, credit-bearing class, Vance thinks the online modules provide a more thorough understanding of the material than an in-person class could.
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“What I know from my experience in other parts of my life and other career paths that I’ve been on is that when you’re trying to engage in prevention, repetition and evidence-based educational opportunities is really how you get change,” Vance said.
Abby Stephenson, a senior middle childhood education major, is the vice president of Chi Omega, a social sorority of the Panhellenic Council. She went through the recruitment process in 2019 and has participated in the Step Up! program, completed the Canvas modules and attended the convocation.
Stephenson said the modules created conversation within her chapter for members to share their thoughts and experiences.
She isn’t sure modules are the most effective at ensuring students understand the material, though.
“I don’t know exactly how effective it is because there’s not a ton of accountability,” Stephenson said. “But I think it’s a good way to start the conversation, and I think that conversation should move past (what) the Step Up! program does at Miami.”
Although Stephenson is worried that some students might not fully read through the modules, she doesn’t think having an in-person, credit-bearing class would be practical, either.
“I understand what OU was trying to do by making it a course, but I do worry that if it was a class that the people participating would give a lot of pushback,” Stephenson said. “I think a lot of members of Greek Life would get pushback, not because they don’t agree that it’s important, but because it’s something we’re constantly hearing as members of the Greek community. It would feel very repetitive to sit through a course on it.”
Despite what other universities and colleges across Ohio are doing to abide by Collin’s Law, Miami’s students feel that what the university is doing in terms of education is enough.
“I think Miami is doing a lot, despite what a lot of people think,” Stephenson said. “I think they are doing a lot when it comes to education and awareness of hazing and everything that comes from these modules, and I think that the university as a whole is trying to change.”