Changes to VCU’s Greek Life in the Wake of Adam Oakes’ Death


On Sept. 16, Virginia Commonwealth University approved the motion to recognize and enforce changes to greek life on campus in hopes that other universities will do the same and can follow their model of making fraternities and sororities a safer and healthier community for students. This agreement was made with the family of Adam Oakes who was a student at VCU that sadly passed away in 2021 due to the forced overconsumption of alcohol during a fraternity party, which is considered hazing. The Oakes family will also receive a settlement of almost $1 million from VCU and the commonwealth of Virginia. 

Some of the major changes that will take place is that students at VCU will have to complete 12 credit hours before joining Greek life, new member education will be changed to 28 days, and absolutely no alcohol is allowed at any fraternity or sorority event where there’s new members. February 27th will also be designated as a Hazing Prevention Day and a day of remembrance for Adam Oakes and the circumstances surrounding his death.

 In addition to these implements, it was also announced that as a part of their plea, the six men who were found guilty have to travel with Oakes’s father to colleges all over America and give speeches about how that fatal night and its consequences affected their lives. 

Now how does any of this have to do with CNU? Well, aside from the fact that hazing can be an issue at any university, the Office of Orientation and Student Involvement (OSI) recently required that all Greek Life members attend an anti-hazing training in order for people to learn more about the signs of hazing, what actually constitutes as hazing, and how to properly report incidents of hazing on campus. It was held in the Gaines Theater and was led by a representative from the OSI who was engaging and also interactive with all the students by bringing them up on stage to participate in activities and asking questions that were thought provoking. 

The main reason why CNU made this training a requirement is because Adam’s Law, which was approved by the state Senate back in January, is now enacted at CNU. According to the bill, it requires universities to provide “extensive, current and in-person education and information on hazing to all members and new members” of student organizations and also doesn’t punish any student who reports incidents truthfully and in good faith. All of this was explained and more at the anti-hazing training sessions where there were conversations on hazing and why it is completely unacceptable. However, there are still many people who doubt if this training really did impact students or if it was just another event that students were forced to go to without really caring, understanding and being aware. Only time will tell, but the hope is that people will learn both from Adam’s tragic story and the anti-hazing prevention event that any type of hazing is still illegal and unacceptable. Change is occurring at universities all around America and this is only the first step to making colleges and Greek life a safer and happier space for all students to enjoy.