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Monday, Mar 4, 2024

Middlebury mourns death of Yan Zhou ’23

Content Warning: This article contains mentions of suicide. 

Yan Zhou ’23, who also went by the first name Lisa, passed away on Wednesday, Oct. 20 at the age of 20.

Zhou lived in Forest Hall this year and was an independent scholar in linguistics from Beijing, China. She was an active member of the Quidditch Club and employee at Ross Dining Hall. In a message to the Middlebury community sent on Oct. 21 from President Laurie Patton and Vice President for Student Affairs Smita Ruzicka, Zhou was described as “always curious” and as having “a fierce streak that came out on the Quidditch pitch.”

Zhou is survived by her parents.

Responding to a call at 4:31 p.m. on Wednesday, the Middlebury Police Department (MPD) arrived on campus and found Zhou deceased in her residence hall, according to a press release written by MPD Chief Thomas Hanley.

The release also noted that “initial investigation indicates there was no foul play, and there is no danger to the campus community.” The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner will make the final determination on the cause and manner of death, but the MPD is ​​investigating it as an apparent death by suicide. 

The administration will be working closely with the Charles P. Scott Center for Spiritual and Religious Life and Zhou’s family and friends to plan a celebration of life for Zhou in the coming weeks, according to Ruzicka.

The Campus plans to publish an article in memoriam of Yan Zhou with stories from her family, friends and peers. If you were close to her and would like to share memories of Yan for publication, please email The Campus at

If you are thinking about suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255).


Editor's Note: A version of this article did not attribute Ideal Dowling as the author of this article. The article has since been corrected.

Ideal Dowling

Ideal Dowling '22 is an Editor at Large.

She previously served as a copy editor and Local section editor.

Dowling is majoring in Political Science and minoring in French and  History. During the summer of 2021, she worked as a consultant for the  startup accelerator Aegis Ventures and as a research assistant for  Professor Stanley Sloan as he worked on his book "De-Trumping U.S.  Foreign Policy: Can Biden Bring America Back?" In addition to her work  at The Campus, Dowling is captain of Middlebury's women's squash team  and an employee at the Middlebury College Museum of Art.