RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The bill being championed as “Adam’s Law” (SB 439) has passed unanimously in the Virginia Senate. It’s one of two anti-hazing bills honoring Virginia Commonwealth University freshman Adam Oakes, who died at a fraternity event last year.
On Wednesday, the Senate passed the bill after a 38-0 vote.
The bill will move into the House of Delegates after Crossover, which is the midpoint of the General Assembly session.
The bill refines previously existing regulations on how institutions implement anti-hazing measures, making changes that its supporters say could have saved Oakes’ life.
The version of the bill that passed to reach the full senate requires that schools publicly post founded instances of hazing on the college or university’s websites.
Courtney White, Adam Oakes’ cousin and an educator studying for her PhD, said during her testimony that the fraternity Adam was pledging had just been taken off of a four-year suspension for hazing violations – but neither he nor his parents had any way of knowing that.
Another bill set to be considered this week would give immunity to bystanders who ask for help when hazing is happening. It also toughens the criminal charge if a victim is seriously injured or dies.
“The idea is to deter the bad behavior and when you see something happen, say something. Step up,” Eric Oakes, Adam’s father told 8News Monday.
The criminal charge would shift from a misdemeanor to a felony, which can carry a 10-year sentence.
The Oakes family said the bill will save lives in the commonwealth if it’s passed.