VCU frat expelled after Loudoun Co. student’s death

Adam Oakes, 19, from Loudoun County, died in late February of alcohol poisoning during what his family says was a case of hazing. (Photo: Courtney White)

Virginia Commonwealth University has shut down a fraternity connected with a student’s death earlier this year.

Almost three months after VCU’s Division of Student Affairs suspended the Delta Chi fraternity, the school announced on Thursday that the frat has permanently lost university recognition for violating numerous school guidelines.

The move comes after an investigation into the death of potential pledge Adam Oakes in late February.

“This was based on multiple reports and allegations of violations of university policies and directives regarding chapter events, COVID-19 protocols, recruitment activities, alcohol and hazing on February 26 and 27 in the hours before the death of VCU student Adam Oakes,” VCU said in a statement on the expulsion of the frat.

Oakes died, according to his family, after he was told to drink a large bottle of whiskey during what they called a hazing. A medical examiner said last week that Oakes died of alcohol poisoning.

“This permanent removal as a recognized student organization is another important step in holding fraternities and sororities at VCU accountable for organizational misconduct,” the university also said regarding the decision.

Oakes’ cousin Courtney White told WTOP in an email that the move was a “a small but mighty step forward in protecting VCU students.”

While calling it a step in the right direction, White said the actions the school is taking now do not bring her cousin back.

“These are reactive measures, not proactive; we hope VCU and Greek organizations will truly strengthen anti-hazing policies and enforce them,” White wrote.

White said the family lives with Oakes’ loss everyday and that the pain is immeasurable.

The family, according to White, will continue to seek justice for Oakes, and wants to see individual students she said contributed to Adam’s death also be held accountable for what took place.

“How do we get them to feel empathetic remorse and regret if they do not even see that what they did is wrong and are not held accountable,” White said.

The Richmond police are still investigating Oakes’ death. The school said the results of that investigation could lead to more violations for the frat or members of the organization.

VCU said it is also taking a close look at all Greek life organizations on campus and has hired an outside firm, Dyad Strategies, to do a full report. That report is expected in a few weeks.

Mike Murillo

Mike Murillo is a reporter and anchor at WTOP. Before joining WTOP in 2013, he worked in radio in Orlando, New York City and Philadelphia.

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