VCU Greek life and students react to ban of Delta Chi Chapter following death of freshman: ‘step in the right direction’

Richmond

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC)– Virginia Commonwealth University students are reacting to the university’s decision to permanently ban the Delta Chi Fraternity on campus after the death of 19-year-old freshman Adam Oakes.

The chapter was found responsible for the charges in the death of Oakes, following a university investigation. Oakes was found dead inside a home on West Clay Street on Feb. 27.

“On May 3, VCU’s Division of Student Affairs initiated disciplinary proceedings against the Delta Chi fraternity chapter at VCU. 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’s Student Organization Conduct Committee Chairs (SOCC) reviewed the report of the organization’s alleged misconduct. Based on the information provided, the Delta Chi fraternity chapter at VCU was found responsible for charges referred to the SOCC.”

Virginia Commonwealth University

Prior to Delta Chi permanently losing university recognition effective May 28, the fraternity was suspended back in 2018 for one year for failing to comply with university requirements for fraternal organizations.

Now, after the university’s announcement to ban the fraternity, there has been mixed reaction. Some students are ‘normalizing’ the hazing process, while others are standing completely against it.

VCU student Nadira Sanat signed a petition that was circulating online earlier this year to expel the fraternity. The petition was created by a student citing Delta Chi’s ‘horrible reputation.’ The petition has garnered more than 16,000 signatures.

According to Sanat, there was outrage on campus after Oakes’ death and a lot of people were upset. She believes the people responsible should be held accountable.

“If you’re going to party and you’re going to have fun, that’s fine. But if you’re going to be risking other people’s lives, this is still school. We’re still here for an education. That’s not okay,” Sanat said. “I think it’s for the best. I think that drives home the kind of standard we need to uphold as a university and hopefully it will deter organizations to allow something like this to happen.”

Oakes’ death has also affected Greek life.

Emily Paden is a student at VCU and is also a member of the International Women’s Fraternity Alpha Omicron Pi. Paden told 8News, Oakes’ death broke her heart.

“Honestly I cried,” she said. “A freshman was so excited. He lost his life because of those men.”

Paden told 8News, her mom called her after finding out what happened.

“She told me, when I was joining an organization, she was scared that it was going to happen to me,” Paden said.

Paden said all fraternity and sorority pledging came to a halt on campus, following the Oakes’ case. According to Paden, organizations weren’t allowed to have contact with new members and they couldn’t be initiated.

“When we took in new members at the beginning of the semester, we were not allowed to initiate them. They will not be able to become full members until next semester. They had to wait this semester, this summer and then they can become full-on members,” Paden said.

On March 12, 2021, VCU fraternity and sorority life chapters were notified of the immediate cessation of all new member and intake activities across all councils including Interfraternity Council (IFC), College Panhellenic Council (CPC), Multicultural Greek Council (MGC), and National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC), until the University authorizes individual chapters to resume.  During this time chapter reviews and training sessions have been underway and will continue throughout the summer so that new member and intake activities can resume. 

Matthew J. Lovisa
Director of Communications and Marketing
Interim Director, Student Media Center
Division of Student Affairs 

But, she said a group has banded together to stand against hazing.

“Just because Delta Chi is gone doesn’t mean the hazing is going to stop. I think there’s a lot more work that needs to be done. But I think for now it’s a good step in the right direction,” Paden said.

Edmund Lin is also a member of Greek life on campus.

“Everyone came together to mourn Adam’s death. That shouldn’t have happened. It brought unity and we have become more cautious at parties. Everyone should let their new members know that we’re not here to hurt you. Put your trust in us. We look out for one another. You won’t need to worry about dying from alcohol,” Lin said.

According to VCU, specifics related to new member recruitment processes for Fall 2021 are still being discussed and planned. According to the Richmond Police Department, the investigation into the death of VCU freshman Adam Oakes is ongoing.

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