Officials in New Zealand have called for an investigation after a student’s body reportedly went undiscovered for nearly two months in a college dorm room there.
The unnamed man was found dead around 11 p.m. on Monday after students at University of Canterbury’s Sonoda Christchurch campus complained of a strong smell coming from the room, according to New Zealand news outlet Stuff. It’s unclear how he died or how his death could have gone unnoticed for so long, but a close friend told Stuff that the man would sometimes “go off the grid for a week or so.”
The man’s stepfather recently contacted his friends on Sunday looking for him, the dead man’s friend said, according to Stuff.
“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.
The school and the man’s family are working with law enforcement in their investigation and a coroner will determine his cause of death, New Zealand police said in a statement.
In her own statement, University Vice-Chancellor Professor Cheryl de la Rey said that it was “inconceivable to imagine how these circumstances could have occurred.”
“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.”
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,” Hipkins said. “And I think clearly that’s not been present in this case.”
The incident has raised concerns among students about the level of care and attention provided at the university’s resident halls, Stuff reported. Hipkins echoed those concerns to the AP.
“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.”