University in NZ took three days to discover Australian student’s body

Recently it was reported that it took the University of Canterbury two months to find out that one of its students, 19-year-old Mason Pendrous, had died in his dorm room. I wrote about that here. Now it has been disclosed that, back in January 2018, an Australian student attending university in New Zealand was dead in his dorm room for three days before being discovered.

The first incident, news of which only just surfaced, took place at Victoria University of Wellington (VUW). The man’s identity has not been published, but we know he was an Australian in his 30s, and that his body was found by a staff member at the school’s Education House.

“University records indicate around three days had passed between his death and the discovery of his death,” a VUW spokesperson stated, adding that the man was living in a self-catered apartment. “As one would expect with mature students, residents are not expected to sign in and out of the hall and their privacy is respected.”

Speaking to The Age, editor of the school magazine Johnny O’Hagan Brebner said a lot of students were disturbed to learn of the incident and think the university had a responsibility to let them know much sooner.

“I am endlessly disappointed at the university and I’ve gotten used to seeing and hearing and writing about bad stuff going on,” he said. “But this is a lot worse than I would’ve expected to see. It really concerns me. For people not to know that the university may or may not have made changes around that, it disturbs me.”

Brebner went on to describe the school as “very secretive” and said it wouldn’t him to learn that VUW “put pressure on [residential advisors] not to say anything.”

The university spokesperson conceded there was some truth to that notion, but added the necessary context:

“Students who were at the hall at the time of the discovery were asked to be discreet and not post any comments on social media until the next of kin had been notified. Once confirmation was received from the police that the next of kin had been notified—received within a matter of hours—this messaging ceased.”

VUW seems to have its bases covered here. The same cannot be said for the University of Canterbury, which has failed to explain how two whole months came to pass before it realized that one of its students had passed away in his dorm room.