VCU releases report on fraternities, sororities following freshman’s death

Months after the alleged hazing death of a freshman from Loudoun County, Virginia Commonwealth University has released an independent report on its fraternities and sororities.

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

The report — which was prepared by Dyad Strategies, an educational consulting firm — finds that while VCU’s hazing culture is no different than other campuses, there is concern that it “is not limited to Delta Chi.” It also finds that “Adam Oakes’ death has caused many organizations to closely examine their traditions around new member socialization.”

The 19-year-old, who was a graduate of Potomac Falls High School, died in late February during an off-campus Delta Chi event. The Oakes family says he had been told to drink a large bottle of whiskey, and a medical examiner found the cause of death was alcohol poisoning.

Delta Chi has since been expelled from the university, and an investigation into Oakes’ death by Richmond police is ongoing.

Dyad’s report details 14 recommendations for the school. They include:

  • Invest in hazing-investigation training;
  • Develop and implement a hazing-prevention plan;
  • Appoint a campus hazing-prevention coordinator;
  • Update and expand the campus hazing policy;
  • Restructure the university’s Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life.

As Dyad put together its report, VCU put together a separate internal report focused on operations, policies and procedures inside that office. Among its recommendations are prohibiting alcohol at all fraternity and sorority events and evaluating membership for first-year students.

“These reviews make important recommendations about how VCU can improve safety, oversight and accountability of our fraternity and sorority organizations,” VCU President Michael Rao said in a statement.

“It’s clear that change will be beneficial, and we are committed to making that change happen,” he said.

VCU has already banned alcohol at all events sponsored by student organizations with undergraduate members. It has also paused recruitment activities for fraternities and sororities until further notice.

Jack Pointer

Jack contributes to WTOP.com when he's not working as the afternoon/evening radio writer. In a previous life, he helped edit The Dallas Morning News and Chicago Tribune.

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