How does this happen? UChicago student found dead in dorm, but had been there for days :(

Staff and students at the University of Chicago have been horrified to learn that a student lay dead in his dorm room for an unknown amount of time until the smell of decomposition was noticed.</p>

<p>It's not clear when 20-year-old Nicholas Barnes died, but before his body was found, face-down on the floor on Saturday afternoon, it had been eight days since he used his key card to enter the university residence, reports the Chicago Tribune.</p>



<p>This happened at Northwestern when I was there. A girl committed suicide but no one in her sorority house discovered her body for several days (and for the same reason). It was pretty awful.</p>

<p>What a sad loss. </p>

<p>I’ve seen quite a few posts on CC by miserable students who are friendless and isolated at college, so it’s not hard to imagine that one of them could be completely off anyone’s radar for days. </p>

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<p>What a nightmare for this student’s parents. I can’t imagine their grief and pain.</p>

<p>It doesn’t seem this student was isolated and friendless. I hope they learn the cause of death. When students are intensely studying, they can easily be “MIA” for a while even in a connected, caring community. </p>

<p>Was there no roommate?</p>

<p>That sounds just so sad and I’m sure quite scary to the other students. They may wonder if they would be missed and if anyone could have done something sooner that could have saved a life. </p>

<p>Terrible story. Makes the old-fashioned weekly phone call from the dorm payphone to mom and dad suddenly more valuable.</p>

<p>This sort of thing has happened before and will happen again. Although it is tragic, I think we need to consider what a college would have to do in order to prevent it. Eliminate singles? Monitor students’ comings and goings very closely? Require them to check in once a day? Treat a student as a missing person if he doesn’t use his dorm key card every day (thereby hunting down students who have gone home for a weekend or who have spent the night with a friend off campus)? </p>

<p>I don’t think any of these actions would go over well with students, however horrified they may be right now at what happened in Chicago. </p>

<p>With so many different ways our kids stay connected with each other, for this student not to be missed for so many days is alarming and sad. D1’s best friend was a real loner freshman year. She would disappear for few days at a time, but she would stay in touch with D1 as to where she was and when she would return. There is something to be said for our kids to have a circle of friends who would look out for each other. If they don’t then maybe parents/family should step up to stay in touch more. </p>

<p>Uchicago has the highest suicide rate.</p>

<p>How horrible. I feel awful for the parents. </p>



<p>Source, please?</p>

<p>Marian, I disagree. Maybe it would be a good idea to have an automated system whereby some office would call the student’s room (or the Resident Floor Counselor) if there were indications that the student’s key card had not been swiped at any university facility in several days. A student may walk through the lobby entrance with others or someone may hold the door open for him, but I think it would be unusual for a student’s I.D. or pass not to be used at the dorm, dinning hall or library for an entire week unless the school was on break.</p>

<p>Some schools do check. Back at my college in the Age of Dinosaurs, my dad called the administration when he could get no answer on my phone for a day or two. No emergency back at home but Dad wondered why I was unavailable. I was on a brief Spring Break trip and hadn’t told my parents or anyone in my small hall. The administration called the Floor Counselor (who probably opened my room to check). The Floor Counselor left a note to “CALL HOME.”</p>



<p>Actually, at many/most colleges that would be the norm. Most colleges do not offer four years of housing, so no dorm/dining hall swipe needed for many students. Many colleges are not urban, so the libraries are wide open; no swipe needed. Heck, even in some urban colleges, the libraries are open during the day to the public.</p>

<p>I would venture to say that a great number of students swipe their cards at either the residence hall, library, copy machine, dinning hall, laundromat, bookstore, labs etc. at least once a week.</p>

<p>I think it would cost a lot of money to implement such systems, and you run the risk of triggering so many false alarms (kid went off for the weekend with a boyfriend or girlfriend) that it would burden the system. </p>

<p>As a parent my takeaway on this is to check up on your college student every few days - have an agreement with your kid that you will send a quick text that they should respond to. A simple - how are you doing - I’m OK - will do.</p>