VCU and Adam Oakes family reach settlement, propose new model for campus Greek life

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The family of Adam Oakes and Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) have reached a settlement agreement in identifying changes to Greek life on campus that will pay the family nearly $1 million.

According to a release from VCU, a settlement was approved today in Fairfax County Circuit Court that both parties hope will become a “national model” for universities and colleges across the country. The Oakes family will receive $995,000 from VCU and Virginia under the agreement.

Efforts to change the way fraternities and sororities prevent hazing came in the wake of the death of Oakes, a 19-year-old Virginia Commonwealth University freshman who died of alcoholic intoxication last year.

The entirety of a joint statement from the family and VCU is included below:

Adam was a beloved son, grandson, nephew, cousin, student and friend. He had a tremendous future ahead of him and his senseless death brought unspeakable pain and tragedy to all who knew him. 

Adam is missed every day. His family and friends, in partnership with VCU, are dedicated to making a difference for others in his memory. 

This is a blueprint to foster a safer and healthier community for students who are part of fraternities and sororities and to create a climate of respect and inclusion that is needed for academic success.  

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.

Adam died on Feb. 27, 2021, and nothing can take away the pain of losing someone so loved. Our agreement honors his memory, and our goal is that it will help save lives in the future.

Specific changes to fraternity and sorority life on campus include the following:

  • Students will be required to have successfully completed 12 credit hours at VCU, among all other eligibility requirements, before being able to join a fraternity or sorority.
  • Alcohol activity will be prohibited at any fraternity or sorority that is attended by new members.
  • Feb. 27 will be designated as an annual hazing prevention day in remembrance of Adam Oakes and the circumstances of his tragic death.
  • Alcohol served or consumed at events associated with student organizations shall be provided by a licensed third-party vendor and require the advanced notification of VCU.
  • A link to the Love Like Adam Foundation website will be included on VCU’s Fraternity and Sorority Life webpage. A VCU webpage dedicated to Adam Oakes and the circumstances of his death will be created by the university as well.
  • Bystander intervention and hazing prevention training will be required by Virginia Code §23.1-820 (Adam’s Law).
  • VCU will create a physical memorial to Adam Oakes on campus.

For more information on the settlement and details on the new Greek life model, visit VCU’s website here.



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