The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Virginia Commonwealth University expels Delta Chi fraternity after student’s death

Adam Oakes, 19, died of alcohol poisoning following an event in February, according to the state medical examiner.

Adam Oakes and his mother, Linda Oakes. Adam, a freshman at Virginia Commonwealth University, was found dead Feb. 27 after attending an off-campus fraternity event. ( and Family photo/Family photo)

Virginia Commonwealth University has expelled the Delta Chi fraternity, months after a first-year student was found dead after an event the organization hosted in February, officials said Thursday.

The ban comes after a months-long investigation into the fraternity, triggered by the death of 19-year-old Adam Oakes and other reports of misconduct including alleged violations of coronavirus protocols and policies regarding chapter events, recruitment activities, alcohol and hazing.

Oakes was invited to pledge the fraternity and, on the night of Feb. 26, attended a “Big Little Reveal” party where he would be introduced to the “big brother” who would be his mentor in Greek life, according to his family. A little more than 12 hours later, the student’s family said, he was found dead on a couch in an off-campus house.

State medical examiners said Oakes died of alcohol poisoning and ruled the death an accident.

VCU freshman found dead after fraternity event, his family says, and they are seeking answers

Oakes’s family said in a statement Thursday they were gratified by the university’s move to expel Delta Chi, but said more should be done. They said Greek organizations need to strengthen anti-hazing policies and enforce them.

“The recent news from the Virginia Commonwealth University on the permanent expulsion of the VCU chapter of Delta Chi is a small but mighty step forward in protecting VCU students,” the statement said. “It’s a step in the right direction for Greek Life reform and transformation of its culture at VCU.”

The university suspended its Delta Chi chapter after Oakes’s death. The student organization faced similar disciplinary action 2½ years prior for failing to comply with the school’s requirements for fraternities, which include rules surrounding event registration, attendance and academic performance.

University officials said in a statement Thursday that Delta Chi’s permanent removal is an “important step in holding fraternities and sororities at VCU accountable for organizational misconduct.”

The university also shared that an outside consulting firm conducting a review of the entire Greek community at VCU is expected to report its findings this summer. And as Richmond police continue their investigation into Oakes’s death, university leaders said they will look for other ways to reform Greek life.

“VCU is committed to closely reviewing that report, when complete, for possible additional organizational or individual violations of university policies and to identify additional opportunities to strengthen our policies and procedures for fraternity and sorority life,” officials said.

American University student found dead in off-campus residence

The national Delta Chi also suspended the VCU chapter in February and, in a tweet, extended condolences to Oakes’s family. The group did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Thursday.

Oakes’s family described the teen as a “big-hearted kid.” In the months since his death, they have launched the Love Like Adam Foundation, which will award scholarships and educate college-bound students about hazing, alcohol poisoning and other dangers they may encounter on campus.

“Adam, like most freshmen going off to college, wanted to be accepted in his new college environment,” according to the foundation. “He was looking to make new friends, find a sense of belonging, and make VCU home.”