Several university students have been charged in connection to the hazing death of a fellow student.
Adam Oakes, 19, was a student at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) who had his heart set on joining the Delta Chi fraternity.
In an attempt to join the fraternity, Oakes attended a fraternity event off campus on February 28 that celebrated pairing new pledges up with fraternity members. It was at this event that the hazing took place.
At this event, Oakes was instructed by fraternity members to drink an entire bottle of Jack Daniels Whiskey.
After the party, police found Oakes unresponsive on the couch. It was determined that Oakes had, unfortunately, passed away.
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A medical examiner ruled on May 25 that Oakes' cause of death was ethanol toxicity, more commonly referred to as alcohol poisoning.
According to the Richmond Police Department, eleven VCU fraternity members have been charged with unlawful hazing in connection to Oakes' death.
The charged fraternity members are listed as followed:
Alexander Bradley, 21; Benjamin Corado, 19; Quinn Kuby, 22; Riley McDaniel, 21; Robert Fritz, 21; Alessandro Medina-Villanueva, 21; Jason Mulgrew, 21; Christian Rohrbach, 22; Colin Tran, 20; Enayat Sheikhzad, 22; and Andrew White, 22.
As of Friday, eight of these men have been arrested. The other three--Bradley, Fritz, and White--turned themselves in and were subsequently indicted.
Oakes' family said this in a Facebook post discussing the incident:
"This is the first time these young men have been held accountable for their historically toxic and destructive traditions, manipulation of the VCU disciplinary systems, and for Adam's death."
Since Oakes' death, his family has pushed for harsher punishments for fraternity hazing. They have launched a website called Love Like Adam, to fight against hazing practices.
The website puts blame for Oakes' death not only on the students involved, but on the fraternity as a whole.
"Adam wanted nothing more than to be accepted by the Delta Chi brothers and become a member of their fraternity."
"Due to the events of one night, one group of boys, and one fraternity tradition, Adam's life was cut short."
Courtney White, Oakes' cousin and the author of the Love Like Adam website, has expressed her relief that fraternity members are finally being charged in Oakes' death after a grueling seven months of investigation.
"When we got the first call that people were being arrested, we cried--it was like that first glimmer of hope in seven months."
"It was bittersweet; we cried. I mean, it was just so wonderful to hear that something was being done."
White also expressed that she is looking forward to her family having their day in court.
"I know the gist of what happened that evening, but I'd love to hear it from somebody that can tell me piece by piece everything that my cousin went through that night because right now the unknowing is just as agonizing as the pain of his death."
The Twitter community is responding to this incident with compassion for Oakes as well as calling out toxic fraternity culture.
In response to the incident, the Delta Chi fraternity has been banned from the VCU campus.
In addition, all fraternities and sororities on campus have been banned from bringing in new members for the upcoming school year.
White feels that these restrictions could save lives.
"If other universities don't have something in place, take VCU as the example and start doing it now before one of your students dies because of hazing."