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Newsletter > March 2022 > "Virginia Poised to Adopt New Anti-Hazing Law, The Adam Oakes Law"
Virginia Poised to Adopt New Anti-Hazing Law, The Adam Oakes Law
Timothy M. Burke, Fraternal Law Partners, firstname.lastname@example.org
Adam Oakes died on February 27, 2021, of alcohol poisoning resulting from a hazing incident at a Virginia Commonwealth University fraternity. A year later, he joins Timothy Piazza in Pennsylvania, Max Gruver in Louisiana, and Collin Wiant in Ohio, in having new anti-hazing law adopted in his name.
The Virginia law, expected to be signed shortly by the Governor, deals with hazing prevention training and the reporting of hazing incidents. It requires that the advisor for each student organization undergo training and provide “extensive, current, and in-person education to all members as well as new members.” Each institution of higher education must also provide hazing prevention training to all potential new members of student groups.
Immunity from discipline is provided to those who, in good faith, report an act of hazing “in advance of or during an incident of hazing that causes injury or is likely to cause injury.”
The institution of higher education must report the name of a student organization found to have engaged in hazing, when the organization was found responsible, the date the hazing occurred and a description of the incident. These reports must be available on the institution’s website homepage and its Greek Life homepage. Annually, each institution must report actual findings of violations of hazing laws or university code of conduct to the Timothy J. Piazza Center for Fraternity and Sorority Research and Reform at the Penn State University.
While this new law does not increase any criminal penalties associated with hazing violations, that may not be far behind. Bills are pending in the Virginia state legislature that would increase hazing from a misdemeanor to felony status under the state’s criminal law.
Adam Oakes’ parents were in the Richmond Capitol when the law was passed by the legislature. The Richmond Times Dispatch quoted the Lieutenant Governor, Winsome Earle-Sears, as telling Adam’s parents that “your son did not die in vain. Adam is making his mark on the world by having a law passed that will help someone else’s child and for that we thank Adam that he was born and that you gave him to us.”
One can only wish that there be no further need for other states to name laws after new victims of hazing.
 H.B. 525, Gen. Assemb. (Va. 2022).
 Eric Kolenich, Virginia Legislature Passes Bills to Require Hazing Prevention Training on College, Richmond Times Dispatch, Feb. 28, 2022, https://richmond.com/news/local/education/virginia-legislature-passes-bills-to-require-hazing-prevention-training-on-college-campuses/article_6935f177-c1de-5dbc-b224-90fc78cfb496.html.