Adam Oakes: 8 frat boys arrested for hazing freshman who died of alcohol poisoning
RICHMOND, VIRGINIA: A group of eight college students from Virginia Commonwealth University has been arrested for their connection with the tragic death of freshman Adam Oakes in February 2021. Oakes died from alcohol poisoning following an alleged incident of hazing at a frat party, where he was forced to drink an entire bottle of whiskey. The arrested students, all of whom are male and part of the Delta Chi fraternity, belong to the age group of 19 to 22. Responding to the arrests, Oakes' family issued a statement saying, "The past seven months have been agonizing for our family. This is the first time these young men have been held accountable for their historically toxic and destructive traditions, manipulation of the VCU disciplinary systems, and for Adam’s death."
They further added, "We are grateful for some measure of justice these charges and arrests may produce, as well as the protection from hazing they may give young, impressionable college students." Meanwhile, the Delta Chi national chapter, who suspended their VCU section months back, stated, "The alleged actions of these individuals are an affront to the values of Delta Chi. Our policies are clear as it relates to the expected conduct of members including that no member shall engage in or condone acts of hazing. No family should ever have to experience what the Oakes family has experienced.” Earlier this year, 20-year-old Stone Foltz, a sophomore at Bowling Green State University in Ohio, died in a similar manner in a hazing ritual gone wrong. He was asked to take 40 shots of alcohol by the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity.
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Who was Adam Oakes?
Adam Jeffrey Oakes was a native of Sterling, Virginia, and the son of Linda and Eric Oakes. He secured admission to the VCU early this year and was invited to be a part of the Delta Chi fraternity. In February, he was asked to attend a fraternity pledge party, where he was promised to be paired with a "big brother" and be officially welcomed into the frat.
However, things went downhill at the part as other students forced him to finish an entire bottle of whiskey as part of his initiation rites. The alleged hazing incident left Adam unwell and he soon passed out on the couch. The next morning, he was discovered dead on the frat house couch. The coroner's house later determined alcohol poisoning as the cause of his death.
His death made headlines in the national media, prompting Delta Chi's national chapter to expel the fraternity officially from the university.
The eight students presently charged with criminal hazing include Benjamin J. Corado, Quinn Kuby, Riley K. McDaniel, Jason Mulgrew, Christian Rohrbach; Colin G. Tran; Alessandro Medina-Villanueva, and another. Among them, four face additional charges of providing alcohol to a minor. Seven of them were arrested and held in custody without bond at the Richmond Justice Center while the eighth suspect was arrested in Prince William County and later released on bond. All these students were reportedly enrolled in the university this semester but might be faced with expulsion and other disciplinary actions.
A prominent problem of hazing and binge drinking had plagued the VCU for quite a while which the university administration failed to address. After Oakes' death, a ban was issued on the consumption of alcohol at fraternity and sorority events. Mourning Adam Oakes' death, the institution stated, "VCU continues to mourn the tragic death of Adam Oakes and is grateful to the Richmond Police Department for its investigation. VCU is dedicated to continuing its efforts, announced this summer, to promote a safe and welcoming fraternity and sorority life culture for all."
Meanwhile, Adam Oakes' family has organized a GoFundMe in his name, the proceeds from which were directed towards funeral and other costs for him. Also, they have started three annual scholarships at $1000 each to donate to Potomac Falls High School in Adam Oakes' name. The Oakes family has become vocal advocates against hazing and actively raises awareness.