Memorial honors Adam Oakes, students push for change in university Greek culture: ‘This cannot happen’

Richmond

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — A virtual vigil is being held for Adam Oakes, the VCU freshman who mysteriously died over the weekend.

People who want to pay their respects can join the virtual gathering from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. However, organizers told 8News if the event reaches capacity, it will be posted onto Youtube after.

“I think that the campus in general is still very much in shock,” a student who did not want to be named told 8News.

Ahead of the vigil Wednesday, a memorial was created at the fountain in VCU’s Monroe Park. At the school known for its artists, VCU students used their talents to honor Oakes. A student painted three portraits of the freshman. Flowers and candles surrounded the portraits on Wednesday afternoon. “Losing a fellow student is devastating,” the student told 8News.

The Delta Chi fraternity was suspended after the incident. Oakes was bidding to join the fraternity, according to his roommate. His family believes hazing and pressure to drink alcohol were factors in his death.

The students who organized the vigil and memorial said they didn’t personally know Oakes. They said the memorial is a space for mourning. “I saw a video that his parents had shared and I just broke down crying. It was so evident that he was so full of life and loved by everybody.”

Oakes mysteriously died in the fraternity’s secondary house on West Clay street, according to his parents. Though details on how he died are extremely limited, the students called it “truly a tragedy.”

“This definitely needs to be a cause for change,” the student said.

On Tuesday, VCU announced it would be conducting an independent review of its Greek life. “Simply put, this cannot happen again. We will keep our community informed about the review, and its outcomes,” VCU wrote in a prepared statement.

However, the university refuses to tell 8News any details about how the review will be carried out.

“I really hope that this just doesn’t go away and that this doesn’t become just another story. You hear stories of students who died from hazing and it’s big news for a couple days, a couple weeks and then it gets swept under [the rug]. This cannot happen. This should not happen ever again,” the student said.

The online petition to get Delta Chi expelled is still gaining traction with more than 12,000 signatures as of Wednesday. The petition’s author wants the fraternity expelled not only for what happened to Oakes — but the author also claims Delta Chi has a pattern of dangerous behavior.

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