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Dartmouth student’s death sparks police harassment investigation as university suspends two Greek organizations



CNN

The hours-long disappearance and then confirmed death of a Dartmouth College fraternity member has police investigating a possible hazing incident. The Ivy League school has suspended the 20-year-old’s Greek organization, as well as a fraternity.

Won Jang, a member of Beta Alpha Omega, was last seen by friends around 9:30 p.m. Saturday during an informal gathering on the docks near the Dartmouth Boathouse on the Connecticut River, the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department said in a news release.

When he failed to show up for an event the next day, authorities were notified, the agency said. Items found at the dock indicated Jang had not left the river area, which authorities were searching as divers checked the water.

About 3½ hours after Jang was reported missing, his body was found by an underwater camera in the Connecticut River, not far from the harbor where he was last seen, the department said.

While the cause of death remains unclear, the school forwarded anonymous emails to the nearby Hanover Police Department indicating that hazing or alcohol may have contributed to Jang’s death, Hanover Police Chief Charlie Dennis said at a news conference Monday.

“This is certainly a tragic event,” he said, asking anyone with information to come forward to help with the investigation. Hanover police did not immediately respond to CNN’s request for more information about the case.

Jang was a member of Dartmouth’s chapter of Beta Alpha Omega, according to the university and his profile on the fraternity’s website, which has been removed. While Hanover police investigate his death, Dartmouth has suspended Beta Alpha Omega, along with Alpha Phi, fraternity and sorority, college spokeswoman Morgan Kelly told CNN on Wednesday. Kelly declined to say what role the fraternity played in the investigation into Jang’s death.

“We cannot provide details about an ongoing investigation, but we can say that at the time of the incident, Beta Alpha Omega was on alcohol probation after being suspended in the fall, winter, and spring. Alpha Phi was placed on alcohol probation in the fall of 2023 and was reinstated thereafter,” Kelly added.

The local chapter of Beta Alpha Omega and the national organization of Alpha Phi did not immediately respond to CNN’s requests for comment.

Jang’s death and the police investigation follow a string of hazing-related deaths on or near U.S. college campuses in recent years that have led to suspensions, expulsions, criminal charges and increased scrutiny of university oversight of fraternities and sororities.

According to a 2008 University of Maine study, the most recent research available, 73 percent of students in U.S. fraternities and sororities have experienced at least one form of hazing.

Jang’s death comes nearly two months after the body of another Dartmouth student was found in the Connecticut River after she was reported missing, CNN affiliate WMUR reported. Their deaths do not appear to be related.

Jang studied biomedical engineering and economics at Dartmouth and worked part time at the school’s DALI Lab, a startup-style experiential learning program where students work in teams of designers and developers, according to his LinkedIn profile.

“Won embraced the opportunities at Dartmouth wholeheartedly to pursue his academic and personal passions,” Dean Scott C. Brown wrote on a site honoring deceased members of the school community.

“We are in contact with Won’s family and express our sincere condolences during this difficult time,” he continued.

Kledian Marinaj, a friend of Jang’s who had recently tried to grab a bite to eat with him, was devastated by his death, he told CNN station WMUR.

“Won was always a great guy,” Marinaj said. “I don’t think there was ever a time when I didn’t see him with a smile on his face.”

Jang was the top student at his Middletown, Delaware, high school, according to his LinkedIn profile and YouTube recording of his graduation ceremony. During an introduction to his graduation speech, an administrator praised his humor, humility and motivation.

CNN’s Amanda Musa contributed to this report.

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