RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) is coming together with members of the community to spread one clear message — put an end to hazing. The school held a workshop on campus called “In Remembrance of Adam: Rams against Hazing.”
The alarm was sounded when a student died from alcohol poisoning.
Two years ago, 19-year-old Adam Oakes died from acute alcohol poisoning in a hazing incident while attending an off-campus Delta Chi fraternity pledge “big-little” party.
“My cousin lit up every room that he walked into. And there wasn’t a person in that same room who didn’t know how much he loved them “said Adam’s cousin Courtney White through tears.
Students, VCU staff, and members of Adam Oakes’ family came together on Monday, Feb. 27, to honor Adam’s legacy and make sure that the way he died isn’t forgotten — or repeated.
The purpose of the event was to raise awareness of the dangers of hazing in remembrance of Adam Oakes on the two-year anniversary of his death.
“Today or yesterday was some of the hardest days I’ve ever had,” White said.
Since his death, his family has been visiting colleges and universities all across the state to talk about the dangers of hazing.
“We base it off of evidence of what kids, the gaps in their knowledge on hazing, prevention bystander awareness too.”
Since then, VCU has permanently banned Delta Chi as a registered student organization and the Oakes family has sued the national organization behind the fraternity.
The Oakes family also unveiled a plaque and bench outside the VCU student commons.
8News spoke with White before the unveiling. Putting the workshop together was her idea. She says that Monday would be a day all about her cousin and how people will remember him.
“Today is all about Adam,” White said. “Honoring him and giving kids at VCU the education, awareness, and interaction of understanding what hazing is and what to do in those situations. And these were all things that he didn’t have.”
The family also presented a video about Adam’s life and featured interactive hazing prevention activities like “how not to be a bystander.”
The Oakes family will also meet with the VCU community and leaders to talk about the “Love like Adam Foundation”, which aims to educate high schoolers and college students in Virginia about the dangers of hazing.