Virginia Commonwealth University will pay almost $1 million after a hazing incident that resulted in the death of a student, according to a joint Sept. 16 press release.
The university is settling with the family of Adam Oakes, who died after partaking in heavy drinking in 2021 as a part of his hazing into the Delta Chi fraternity. As a part of the settlement, the university is implementing a hazing prevention plan to raise awareness in memory of Oakes, according to a joint Sept. 16 press release by the university and Oakes’ family.
“No amount of money is going to bring Adam back. As much as we pray to wake up from the nightmare, it just isn’t going to happen,” the Oakes family said in a statement to the Daily Caller News Foundation. “The light in all of this is that Virginia Commonwealth University is now making changes to prevent what happened to Adam, from happening to anyone else in the future…We made that promise to Adam, to Virginia students, future students, and their families. We will continue to educate and protect students like Adam in our higher education institutions…to hopefully produce systemic changes in Greek life, athletics, and in other student organizations at all levels of education. VCU has agreed to make monumental changes to their Greek system that will hopefully set a precedent for other universities to follow.”
“By working to honor Adam’s life and legacy, we are dedicated to creating a national model for universities and colleges across the country. Some of these changes are already complete or underway,” the statement read.
Under the agreement, Feb. 27 will be recognized as “annual hazing prevention day” and serve as a remembrance for Oakes. The new guidelines also include the prohibition of alcohol at any fraternity or sorority event where new members are present and if alcohol is provided, it must be provided by a third party vendor.
In order to join a fraternity or sorority, students must complete 12-credit-hours, the statement said.
VCU mourns the death of student Adam Oakes.
This is a tragic loss for Adam’s family and members of our community and we encourage any students in need of support to contact University Counseling Services at (804) 828-6200. pic.twitter.com/WiroQSQDpy
— VCU (@VCU) February 28, 2021
Eleven members of the fraternity pleaded guilty to partaking in the hazing incidents that led to Oakes’ death, but none were sentenced to prison, according to the Associated Press. Delta Chi is no longer a fraternity on campus, as it was expelled from the university in 2021.
All student misconduct incidents will now be reported on the university’s website, the statement said. The university will also work to create a memorial on campus for Oakes.
“Adam wanted nothing more than to be accepted by the Delta Chi brothers and become a member of their fraternity,” Love Like Adams, a foundation in memory of Oakes, wrote on the website. “Due to the events of one night, one group of boys and one fraternity tradition, Adam’s life was cut short.”
The university referred the Daily Caller News Foundation to their press release.
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