Investigation underway for report of 2019-2020 hazing incident


By Charis Whalen

Miami University and the Oxford Police Department are investigating a reported hazing incident that occurred during the 2019-2020 academic year. Jessica Rivinius, Miami’s director of news and media relations confirmed Thursday.

“Miami’s Office of Community Standards recently received a report of an alleged hazing incident that occurred a couple of years ago,” Rivinius said in an email response to a query from the Observer. “While there does not appear to be an active threat, we take this report — and every report — seriously. We have begun a thorough investigation of the alleged incident and will respond appropriately.”

The university’s Office of Community Standards is handling Miami’s end of the investigation, she said.

Neither the university nor the Oxford Police would release any details of the allegation, including who made it, when or where the alleged incident occurred, who the victim might have been or what the nature of the hazing was. The police and university even declined to say what type of organization – fraternity, sorority, sports team, club or other organization was involved in the complaint.

The initial complaint was made to the Miami University Police Department Oct. 19. On Oct. 27, MUPD forwarded the complaint to the Oxford Police Department, indicating the alleged incident probably took place off-campus. 

Oxford Chief John Jones said he would not release any details on the incident because it is under investigation.

Rivinius noted that hazing is a crime in Ohio and that Miami has zero-tolerance for it. Miami’s Honoring Fraternity document includes the university’s policies regarding fraternities and sororities, including many of the changes that were implemented in the past few years, she said.

On Aug. 6, 2019, Miami suspended the Delta Tau Delta fraternity for 15 years, following a hazing incident in which a pledge was so severely paddled that he went to the emergency room. Eighteen of the fraternity members initially were charged with various offenses connected to the incident.

This hazing allegation came to light soon after Ohio enacted a new, tougher anti-hazing statute, known as “Collin’s law,” which went into effect Oct. 7. The law is named for Collin Wiant, an 18-year-old Ohio University freshman, who died after inhaling a can of nitrous oxide during a fraternity hazing incident in 2018. It allows some hazing cases to be charged as felonies.  

Collin’s law also requires the Ohio Department of Education to implement a statewide anti-hazing plan.

In response to this, Miami University committed to providing anti-hazing education “to all students who are members of any fraternity or sorority, student organization, or athletic team,” according to an email sent out to students after the law went into effect.

Under the statute, general hazing is upgraded to a second-degree misdemeanor while hazing incidents involving drugs or alcohol are considered third-degree felonies. The law also widens the scope of those who can be punished to include those who participate in or permit hazing.