Foltz family attorney wants to see end to university pledging and hazing
An attorney for the family of Stone Foltz is asking university students to leave hazing out of the 2022-2023 school year as the last two of the eight defendants charged following the death of the Bowling Green State University sophomore in 2021 were sentenced this week to jail in Wood County.
Attorney Rex Elliott said the sentences of six weeks for Troy Henricksen and Jacob Krinn are light, compared to the life the Foltz family lost.
But, Elliott said Foltz’ family, are “happy to see some measure of justice done.” And, that spending 42 days in county jail “is not a picnic.”
The sentence is also light when compared to the penalties they could have faced if the incident occurred after the more stringent anti-hazing laws were passed in the state, Elliott said.
“It's really important to note that these sentences were handed down under the old law, under the new law, these kids would spend years in prison,” he said.
Collins Law was inspired by an earlier hazing death, but wasn’t passed by state lawmakers until Foltz’s death.
“The legislation had been proposed months before Stone’s death, and it just didn't get passed by the legislature. And so the reality is that had it been passed, it might have even saved Stone’s life, because people would have been more aware of the repercussions,” Elliott said.
Collin's Law requires that any administrator, employee, faculty member, teacher, consultant, alumnus or volunteer of any organization immediately report hazing to a law enforcement agency in the county in which the victim of hazing resides or in which the hazing is occurring or has occurred.
Elliott said the law will hold universities responsible for knowingly allowing dangerous behavior to occur within fraternities and sororities.
“If the universities that harbor these organizations don't step up and do something about it, this is never going to end we're going to lose more young lives,” Elliott said.
He thinks universities should take it a step further and completely ban pledging.
“One of the things that I am calling for is for all universities across the country to abolish pledge programs, because that's where these deaths and injuries are occurring. They're occurring in the pledge process, where actives have something the pledges want, and they know the pledges will do anything to get it,” he said.
Elliott is representing Stone's mother Shari Foltz in a civil suit against BGSU. The school denies wrongdoing.
Elliot warns students not to participate in hazing activities, and to report it.
“For all students returning to college, if you are an active member of a fraternity, please do not haze, I'm begging you. Because you will be in the criminal justice system. You will be expelled from school and the course of your life will change forever,” Elliott said. “To incoming freshmen, do not allow older college students to haze you; report it. That's the courageous thing to do. Do not go along with the line and participate in hazing. It could mean the end of your life.”