University to implement hazing education for student organizations

Student Organizations greet students at New Student Convocation 2021. CT File Photo

Anna Chen, Audience Editor 

Virginia colleges and universities are now required to provide hazing prevention training, following the passage of Adam’s Law. 

Joe Wheeless, director of VCU’s Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life, said he plans to keep an eye out for any reports of hazing as student organizations, clubs, sororities and fraternities begin their recruitment process.

“The goal of this education is to make sure that they [students] can know and understand what hazing is and how to report it,” Wheeless said. 

Students interested in joining fraternities and sororities will need to complete the hazing prevention training, per Adam’s law, named after Adam Oakes who died due to alcohol poisoning as a result of hazing on Feb. 26, 2021. The General Assembly passed the bill, and it was subsequently signed into law by Gov. Glenn Youngkin in April.  

The training provides students with education on the effects and overconsumption of alcohol, Wheeless said. The education also includes information on how to identify hazing and the severity scale of different types of hazing, along with Virginia laws and VCU’s policies on hazing, according to Wheeless. 

“The ultimate goal is so students can identify what hazing would be and what resources are available for reporting and supporting students who may experience hazing,” Wheeless said.  

The Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life will keep track of student attendance. If the chapter is interested in the student’s bid, the office will do an eligibility check and share with the chapter if the student is eligible to join or not, according to Wheeless. 

Along with hazing prevention training, the legislation requires Virginia colleges and universities to report any incidents and hazing violations to campus police or local law enforcement, according to the Virginia Legislative Information System

Fraternities registered at VCU, such as Alpha Kappa Psi, Delta Epsilon Mu and Lambda Chi Alpha, have been reported to the VCU Division of Student Affairs for hazing, according to the VCU Registered Student Organization Conduct Report. These fraternities have been put on suspension.

VCU student organizations, such as Filipino Americans Coming Together and the Vietnamese Student Association, were also suspended due to a report of hazing, according to the report.

FACT has been put on deferred suspension and is able to recruit, according to VCU spokesperson Matthew Lovisa.

Vidu Ramakrishnan, senior biology student and president of the Chinese Student Association at VCU, said hazing prevention education is “extremely important.” 

“Everybody has different boundaries and different limits that they’re comfortable with,” Ramakrishnan said. “With what happened to Adam Oakes, it might lead to things being pushed way over the line and tragedies of that like happening.”

Ramakrishnan said it’s important for not just fraternities and sororities, but also for student organizations as well to understand the importance of hazing prevention.

“We are human beings at the end of the day and we’re all comfortable with [a] different level of things,” Ramakrishnan said. 

As the president of his organization, Ramakrishnan said he wants to make his organization attainable and inclusive so everyone can join and be involved. 

“I think it’s definitely important to have education about hazing because it can really lead to some unfortunate circumstances where people are pushed beyond their limit,” Ramakrishnan said.

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