Calls for change in Greek life grow in the wake of Adam Oakes’ death

Calls for change in Greek life grow in the wake of Adam Oakes’ death
A former member of Greek life at VCU speaks out about Adam Oakes. (Source: NBC12)

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Calls for change in the wake of Virginia Commonwealth University freshman Adam Oakes’ death rise as the Richmond Police Department continues its investigations into the circumstances surrounding his death.

Oakes was found dead in an off-campus house on West Clay Street early Saturday, February 27. His family believes Oakes was hazed during a party on Friday night after he accepted a bid to join Delta Chi.

Police and VCU have not confirmed these reports of hazing.

Over the weekend, the Delta Chi chapter at VCU was suspended. The university announced Tuesday, March 2, that it was going to conduct an independent review of Greek life.

However, the calls to make changes continue to grow online. A petition to expel Delta Chi from the university has over 13,000 signatures and will be sent to VCU President Dr. Michael Rao and the Richmond Police Department.

Zena Arbo, a student at the University of Richmond, was one of the people who signed the petition.

“It’s shocking and upsetting and so tragic that he had to die for people to realize that Greek life is a problem at VCU,” Arbo said.

Arbo says there have been movements to abolish Greek life around the country, including at the University of Richmond. She says she used to be part of a sorority and disaffiliated herself from it last summer during the Black Lives Matter movement over the lack of action.

“In the organization I was a part of, there was no conversation around those things,” she said. “There was no lending a hand of support to the people in the organization who were supposed to be your sisters.”

Arbo supports abolishing Greek life and culture.

“It’s so frustrating that so many people are losing their lives and losing who they are as individuals or being assaulted, or being hazed or being mistreated,” Arbo said.

As the investigation continues into the death of Adam Oakes, Arbo hopes VCU’s independent review of Greek life will lead to change.

“I know they temporarily suspended Delta Chi, but their actions resulted in a death of a student. I don’t know how any other organization would be allowed to continue if that is something that happened,” Arbo said. “I’m happy to see people standing up for him, but I wish that his death didn’t have to occur for people to realize that there was a problem.”

The Richmond Police Department has not offered any new updates on the case.

A funeral service for Adam Oakes will be held in Ashburn on Monday morning.

Copyright 2021 WWBT. All rights reserved.