The body of a university student in New Zealand has been found in his dorm room—two months after he died. How such a thing could have happened is an open question, one that a number of people and organizations are determined to get to the bottom of.
Reuters reports that the young man’s body was finally discovered after some other students reported that a foul odour was emanating from his room. No cause of death has been determined; the case has been turned over to the coroner for an investigation.
The deceased was reportedly a New Zealand citizen. His identity has not been released.
In a statement, Canterbury University Vice-Chancellor Cheryl de la Rey said the school is “devastated by what has happened and extend our deepest sympathy to the family,” adding, “Despite the comprehensive pastoral care programs in place, for us it is inconceivable to imagine how these circumstances could have occurred.”
Indeed—inconceivable. Did nobody notice that he was absent from all of his classes for two months? Did students in adjacent dorm rooms not realize that his door hadn’t been opened in two months? Is there no mechanism in place to check in on a student who has evidently dropped out of all his classes without explanation—a student who is still living on campus?
Speaking to Radio New Zealand, New Zealand Education Minister Chris Hipkins lamented the event as a terrible administrative failure, stating that “No student should be left for that period of time unattended, uncared for when they’re living in a hall of residence or a hostel.”
The residence in which the student was living is run by Australian company Campus Living Villages. They issued the following statement:
“If something needs to change in the way we operate our services, my assurance is we will do it. We can never eliminate all risk, but we can, and we must do all we can to minimize it.”