Bill similar to ‘Adam’s law’ might become federal legislation

United States Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine are co-sponsors for the Report and Educate About Campus Hazing Act, a bill mirroring ‘Adam’s Law’. Photo courtesy from the Oakes family

Diana Ho, Contributing Writer ‘

Correction: The “Adam’s Law” actually mirrors the REACH Act, which was first introduced in 2019. In addition, the Clery Center is a nonprofit organization that educates and trains on the Clery Act. However, they are not the enforcement agency, nor do they collect reports from institutions.

The Report and Educate About Campus Hazing Act, known as the REACH Act, is gaining support from United States Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine to become federal law.  

The REACH Act was first introduced in the U.S. Senate by Sen. Amy Klobuchar in March 2021.  The act mirrors Adam’s Law, named after VCU student Adam Oakes, who died by alcohol poisoning as a result of hazing in February 2021, according to the Chief Medical Examiner’s Office.

“Hazing has no place on college campuses. We owe it to young people, many of whom are on their own for the first time, to protect them from the dangerous consequences of hazing,” Warner stated. “Too many parents, including the family of Adam Oakes, have lived through the horror of having their child killed or seriously injured at the hands of their peers.”

Both the REACH Act and Adam’s Law address hazing and seek to implement hazing education in institutions of higher education. Adam’s Law currently requires students who report hazing within their organization to be exempt from disciplinary action, according to the Virginia General Assembly website.

The legislation currently has 12 co-sponsors for the Senate bill. The bill is bipartisan, as its co-sponsors include Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham and Sen. Susan Collins. The corresponding House bill for the REACH Act has 48 co-sponsors.

Warner said the REACH Act would provide increased transparency and accountability around incidents involving hazing and will promote education on the “dangers and life-long consequences” of hazing. 

Adam’s Law passed through the Virginia General Assembly in April, mandating VCU, and other universities in Virginia to provide hazing education to all student organizations.

The REACH Act also requires institutions of higher education that participate in federal student-aid programs to report hazing incidents and implement hazing education programs.

Warner and Kaine met with Eric Oakes, the father of Adam Oakes, in Washington, D.C. during July 2022 to advocate for the REACH Act. Oakes said his meeting with Warner and Kaine was “incredible,” noting the senators expressed compassion and support for the family. 

Oakes said he would not want another family to go through a similar experience, and if he can save another person from losing their life, he will go out every day to talk about hazing. 

The REACH Act is tied to the Clery Center, an organization promoting campus safety, according to Oakes. Colleges and universities have to give the Clery Center annual reports on any misconduct and crime that happens on campus.

“This would actually be another arm of the act and the Clery Center, so they would now start to have to report information about hazing incidents to the Clery Center,” Oakes said.

Oakes said all student organizations should be educated on hazing, not only fraternities and sororities. 

For the education portion, Oakes said he hopes “everyone [can] have some input.” Oakes said  PowerPoint slides are ineffective and would rather see more engagement for the education.

The Love Like Adam foundation has created a hazing prevention curriculum, Oakes said. The foundation is an organization created in honor of Adam Oakes that seeks to support and educate graduating seniors and their families with the transition of high school to higher education, according to the Love Like Adam website.

“We’re actually hopefully going to be able to pitch it to VDOE [Virginia Department of Education] very soon. If they like what they see, we want to roll it out in middle schools, high schools and all across the state of Virginia,” Oakes said.

Oakes said his meeting with Warner and Kaine also included Rep. Donald McEachin who was “unbelievably supportive” and expressed gratitude for the meeting. 

McEachin stated in an email that he appreciates the Oakes family for their determination. He is an original co-sponsor of the REACH Act in the 116th Congress. 

“While many institutions may be trying to tackle the issue on their own accord, a federal legislative response would help streamline and standardize those efforts through specific reporting requirements and educational programming,” McEachin stated. “This is not a partisan issue, and it is my hope that we can find consensus on both sides of the aisle to move this legislation forward.”

Assistant political science professor Alex Keena stated in an email that the REACH Act has been stuck in the Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions since the bill’s introduction in March 2021. 

Keena stated although most bills end up sitting in committee, there may be promise since the bill has picked up a few co-sponsors that are both Republican and Democrat. 

“In general, the more co-sponsors a bill has — particularly if they are from both parties — the more likely the bill is to succeed,” Keena stated. 


  1. Excellent article that educated me more about the legislative efforts towards tackling hazing. Hopefully this bill or something similar can pass through sometime soon. Great read!

  2. Truly a well-written article on a promising bill that is destined to change the lives of millions of current and future college students. I look forward to the REACH Act’s passage and hope that this bipartisanship for both pieces of legislation can be sustained throughout the legislative process.

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