Officials in New Zealand are calling for an investigation after a student’s body reportedly went undiscovered for almost two months in his college dorm room.
According to New Zealand news outlet Stuff, the unnamed student was found dead around 11 p.m. on Monday after students at the University of Canterbury’s Sonoda Christchurch campus complained of a strong smell coming from the room. It is not yet known how he died or how it went unnoticed for so long, but a close friend told the publication that the student would sometimes “go off the grid for a week or so.”
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According to a friend, the dead student’s stepfather contacted his friends on Sunday looking for him. “He contacted my friends first to try and reach him and when they couldn’t, he told us he would call the police,” the friend told the outlet. Now, the school and the man’s family are working with law enforcement and a coroner will determine his cause of death, New Zealand police said in a statement.
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In another statement, University Vice-Chancellor Professor Cheryl de la Rey said it was “inconceivable to imagine how these circumstances could have occurred.” She went on to say, “We are devastated by what has happened and extend our deepest sympathy to the family,” de la Rey said. “This is an extremely distressing time for University students and staff.”
As of now, few details about the incident have been made public — but New Zealand Education Minister Chris Hipkins acknowledged to the Associated Press that no one should be left in a dorm room for so long.
“If you’re going into a hall of residence or a hostel, you are paying top dollar for not just a roof over your head but also the pastoral care that goes with that. And I think clearly that’s not been present in this case, Hipkins said. “We’ll be looking very closely at the regulatory and legal arrangements around the halls of residence and hostels to make sure they are as strong as they need to be,” he said. “But clearly I’m really concerned about this case.”
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