Tea Time with Tagwa: VCU hasn’t done enough to prevent hazing

Illustration by Karly Andersen

Tagwa Shammet, Opinions Editor

Tea timers, it’s been more than a month since freshman Adam Oakes was found dead at a West Clay Street house after attending a Delta Chi rush event. As of Wednesday, 46 days have passed.

In VCU’s Greek life organizations, nothing has changed.

Immediately following Oakes’ death, hazing in fraternities and sororities became the forefront of all conversation on campus. The community eagerly waited for VCU’s response to the tragedy. Many of us stood alongside Oakes’ family and demanded change.

As a member of Greek life here at VCU, I’ve been able to see up close what the university has done — or not done — to combat hazing. So far, there’s only been a mandatory anti-hazing seminar. Nothing else was applied to Greek life. 

The virtual seminar defined hazing and discussed safe drinking practices. While the seminar was beneficial in theory, I can promise you most students were not paying attention.

The unfortunate reality is that this is the culture of most Greek life. Not just on campus, but around the country. Getting “white girl wasted” and not remembering the night is considered an achievement, rather than a danger to your body.

Of course, each Greek council is different and holds its own set of values. But it’s clear that some councils don’t receive the same rate of punishment from VCU as others do.

Delta Chi is a prime example of this. The fraternity was never supposed to be back on campus. They had broken an obscene amount of VCU’s Fraternity and Sorority Life rules, according to reporting from the Richmond Times-Dispatch. From a cease-and-desist order in 2018 to premature membership offers and unapproved parties, Delta Chi has never truly faced the consequences of its actions.

Despite Oakes’ death happening at one of its events, the fraternity has yet to meet its end. The VCU chapter of Delta Chi hasn’t even been expelled from campus, just suspended.

VCU is more concerned with covering its own back than actually regulating student safety. 

Oakes’ death should’ve been a wake-up call to the university. It should have ignited a desire to protect students from any potential danger. It should have served as an opportunity to change the culture. Instead, it was simply an inconvenience to our administration.

Becoming a member of Greek life is meant to be an entrance into a community. It is meeting people with similar interests and a desire to cultivate a family. Oakes didn’t get a family. He didn’t get brothers who cared about him. He got a bunch of brutish boys brainwashed into believing that hazing Oakes showcased their strength and power.

VCU has allowed this culture to continue. We haven’t had a conversation about this unfortunate incident as a Greek community. How can we move on from something that we never even spoke about?

Greek life will always carry just as many negative connotations compared to those that are positive. However, it is our institution’s responsibility to protect us from harm that may be instilled in this culture. Just because something is the way that it is, doesn’t mean it’s okay; and it definitely doesn’t mean it has to stay like that. And that’s the tea.

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