Virginia Commonwealth University Will Change Its Fraternity Rules And Pay $1 Million After A 19-Year-Old Pledge Died

Virginia Commonwealth University also agreed to new requirements for its fraternities and sororities.

The family of the 19-year-old Virginia Commonwealth University student who died last year from alcohol poisoning during a fraternity event will receive nearly $1 million, the university announced Friday.

Adam Oakes died Feb. 27, 2021, during a pledge party for the fraternity Delta Chi near campus when, as part of a hazing event, he was told to drink a bottle of Jack Daniels.

"Adam wanted nothing more than to be accepted by the Delta Chi brothers and become a member of their fraternity," a statement reads on the Love Like Adam website, which is run by Oakes's family. "Due to the events of one night, one group of boys, and one fraternity tradition, Adam's life was cut short."

After the party, police found Oakes unresponsive on a couch in the fraternity house, and in September, 11 men were charged with unlawful hazing. According to the New York Times, six of the men were either found guilty or pleaded guilty, and the charges were dropped against the other five. As part of their plea deal, the six men will have to travel with Oakes's father to colleges across the country and give speeches about how that night affected their lives.

In the statement, the university said the Oakes family will receive $995,000 from the university and the commonwealth of Virginia. There will also be new requirements for fraternities and sororities, including that students will now be required to complete 12 credit hours at VCU before they can join a fraternity or sorority, alcohol will not be allowed at any event with new members, and Feb. 27 will be recognized as a hazing prevention day. Delta Chi did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In the announcement of the agreement, the Oakes family also gave a new statement, recalling the teen as a beloved son, grandson, nephew, cousin, student, and friend.

"Adam is missed every day," the statement said. "His family and friends, in partnership with VCU, are dedicated to making a difference for others in his memory."

They added that they hoped their work on hazing prevention since his death could create a national model for schools around the country.

"This is a blueprint to foster a safer and healthier community for students who are part of fraternities and sororities and to create a climate of respect and inclusion that is needed for academic success," the statement said.

Since Oakes's death, his family has set up the Love Like Adam Foundation, which aims to educate students about the potential dangers on college campuses. In recent years, movements like Abolish Greek Life have popped up urging colleges to remove Greek life from campuses due to its history of sexual assault, hazing, and racism.