RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - A group of VCU students met at Monroe Park on Wednesday to help put up a memorial dedicated to VCU freshman Adam Oakes, who was found dead in an off-campus house on Saturday morning.
The students put up flowers and pictures of Adam around the fountain in the park as part of a memorial to honor Adam’s life in the community.
“The kids are my comfort,” Linda Oakes said, referring to the support she’s receiving after losing her son.
VCU students are hearing of her son’s story and share her pain.
“You’re just coming to this school looking for more friends and new experiences, and this is how people treat you,” Lamont Gonzalez said.
Wednesday evening, VCU students gathered at the memorial site to light candles and reflect on Oakes’ life. Simultaneously, a separate vigil was held online for students who couldn’t gather in person.
“We’re here to say we care about what happened,” student Faread Darwish said.
“It pretty much saddened me that someone had to pass in such a disturbing way,” Gonzalez added.
The students who helped with the memorial say they didn’t know Adam personally but saw his positive and loving spirit through memories shared by others.
“I saw a video that his parents had shared and I just broke down crying,” said a student who didn’t want to be identified. “It was so evident that he was so full of life and love by everybody, and we knew something had to be done.”
Oakes’ family believes hazing played a part in his death after he accepted a bid to join Delta Chi. The family says they were told that Adam had to drink a handle of Jack Daniels whiskey as part of the initiation process into Delta Chi.
The chapter is suspended and VCU is conducting an independent review of Greek life.
“We appreciate all of the love and support and all of the posts. We read them. It’s helping my wife and I get through these tough times. It means a lot you know, and just all of the love, that’s what Adam was all about. Kindness and friendship,” Eric Oakes said while grieving the loss of his son.
“He always lit up the room with his smile and these kids, they’re really just encompassing the person that he was, even if they didn’t know him,” relative Courtney White added.
A funeral service for Adam is scheduled for Monday in Ashburn
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