OPINION: The case for change

A reflection on the dangers of hazing and the Adam Oakes incident

~Evelyn Davidson, Staff Writer~

On the morning of February 27th, Adam Oakes, a nineteen-year-old student attending VCU, was found dead after participating in a Delta Chi “Big Little Reveal” that took place at off-campus fraternity housing the night before. The hazing incident involved consuming large quantities of alcohol and being blindfolded. As a result, Oakes’s family believes that he sustained injuries to his head from impact on a tree. In response to this tragic loss, Richmond and VCU police said that they are investigating Oakes’s death, and the VCU Delta Chi chapter has been suspended. 

While being a part of Greek life can have its benefits, such as civic engagement and the creation of life-long friendships with other members, hazing incidents like this keep occurring and things should be handled differently. As a preventative measure, school administrations should monitor Greek organizations more closely, especially during initiation/recruitment season. Also, with everyone capturing moments on their phones, maybe more oversight of social media would discourage dangerous behavior.

In addition, further punishment is needed beyond just suspending the chapter at fault, because once the suspension is lifted, the problematic members can still be involved with the organization. There needs to be more focus on individual members being held accountable by the school; they should not be allowed to hide behind the face of their organization. Attributing a horrible tragedy, like the death of Adam Oakes, to the Greek organization itself instead of the participating individuals, allows the transgressors to distance themselves from the incident. There should be greater emphasis on the fact that hazing involves a person or people actively making the decision to endanger and hurt one of their own peers. 

Nobody should ever have to go through the pain of losing someone to something as senseless and terrible as hazing; that is not what Greek life should be about. The loss of Adam Oakes is a sad reminder that certain aspects of Greek life need to be reevaluated and it is everyone’s responsibility to work towards change and reform.

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