RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The family of Adam Oakes, a Virginia Commonwealth University freshman who died from alcohol poisoning at a fraternity event in 2021, is working with the school to sculpt a new model for the Greek system.
The Oakes family and VCU hope the new framework will transcend into the national level as a model for Greek systems. New guidelines primarily surround alcohol and intend to provide more strongly enforced rules in practicing safer drinking policies for students.
Rasheed Alleyne, a senior biology major at VCU, is a member of the Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity. He believes the new policy could help save lives.
“It’s a wakeup call,” Alleyne said. “People can get hurt by drinking, alcohol poisoning, things of that nature, so just implementing alcohol policy is one of the biggest ones for me.”
The new policy drastically changes the way fraternities and sororities on campus can operate. One rule prohibits alcohol at events where new members are present. Another element mandates that any alcohol served at student events to be provided by licensed, third-party vendors. The school must first be notified.
Since Greek life is often associated with parties and alcohol, some have questioned how smoothly the policies could be implemented into daily practice. Alleyne said given the severity of the circumstance, he doesn’t foresee any obstacles in adopting the new policy.
“Because it’s a zero-tolerance policy at VCU,” Alleyne said.
He also noted the benefits to Greek life and sees the introduction of these new guidelines as a fair compromise in ensuring fraternities and sororities are allowed to still function on campus following Oakes’ tragic death.
Alleyne hopes the new policies will eliminate the negative parts of Greek life and allow the positives to shine through.
“I think Greek life does a lot of great to the community,” Alleyne said. “More good than bad, a lot more good than bad; but at the same time the policies are there so all the bad is gone [and] you only see the good.”
The new policy also spotlights bystander prevention training, which serves to adequately prepare students for potentially dangerous situations involving alcohol, assault and more. Alleyne said this topic is too important to be ignored and hopes the policy will bring about tangible, impactful change.
“We don’t want any more tragedies,” Alleyne said. “We don’t want any more hurt families. We don’t want any more parents sending their kids to school and they’re not coming home.”