Peer pressure and the desire to belong make teenagers these days do things that can put their lives in danger. And sometimes, there is no harm in joining sororities and fraternities. In fact, they can even offer a great sense of community to those students in college.
However, it is not a secret that many times, their rituals can get out of hand. And that’s what happened to 19-year-old Adam Oakes. Now, his grieving father, Eric, is ready to speak up about his son’s untimely passing.
Adam Oakes was a freshman at Virginia Commonwealth University. Like other college students, Adam loved to belong. One night, he attended an off-campus party, and the next morning, he was found dead. His parents said that Adam was going to find out who his big brother in the fraternity was. Sadly, it ended in ways that nobody expected.
The Richmond Police Department is investigating the incident, but according to the authorities, many suspects are linked to the Delta Chi fraternity. Because of this tragedy, the fraternity chapter has been suspended during this time.
The family is glad that details about what happened that night are slowly emerging. Still, they are hoping to figure what really happened. In an interview with Today, his father said, “We want some answers, you know. We deserve answers. Adam deserves answers.”
From what the family knows, Adam was told to drink a large bottle of Jack Daniel’s whiskey. He was given an hour to finish the entire bottle which everyone knows can be a health risk.
Adam’s cousin, Courtney White said, “We think it’s part of the hazing process, and we think it went too far. They checked in on him at midnight, he was breathing and OK and on his side, but then when they woke up, they found him face down on the couch. And then they rolled him over. Half his face was purple, half was not.
” Courtney also believes that Adam was probably blindfolded as part of the initiation. With the lack of vision and his level of intoxication, Courtney thinks his cousin walked into a tree before later passing out.
Neighbors living near the house where the party took place cooperated with the authorities, sharing what they saw and heard that night. That house has been designated as a secondary residency for Delta Chi activities. One neighbor also reported seeing a body being carried out of the home.
The college has been very careful with its responses to this incident. Senior Vice Provost Charles Klink said, “In light of Adam’s death and our commitment to a safe and healthy campus, this review will make recommendations about how Greek organizations meet the high expectations we have for them… Simply put, this cannot happen again.”
His family shared that Adam showed a big interest in joining a fraternity. Adam hoped to be in an organization where he felt like he belonged. Eric shared, “He had already tried to get into other fraternities and had been turned down, but he saw the comradery. He’d see the brotherhood and just loved the actual acceptance.”
“At 9 p.m., he texts his dad and just said, ‘I’m going in. Love you.’ and he went in,” his cousin said. That was the last communication that his family had with him. “Adam had a huge, huge heart, which is what drew him to that fraternity,” Courtney continued. “He wanted that sense of belonging.”
The fraternity also released a statement saying: “The health and safety of our chapter communities is always a top priority for The Delta Chi Fraternity, which suspended the VCU chapter after learning of the incident late Saturday afternoon.”
Everyone believes that Adam’s death could have been avoided, as are most deaths that occurred within fraternities and sororities. He may have been too intimidated to speak up for himself or it’s also possible that he had too much trust with his brothers that they will not put him in harm’s way.