A former high court judge has been tasked with leading the investigation into the death of a Canterbury University student whose body was not found for up to eight weeks.
Hon Kit Toogood QC today met with the family of Mason Pendrous to discuss the process he will follow as he begins what is expected to be a six-week investigation.
Pendrous was found in his unit at the Sodona Christchurch Campus by a staff member last Monday after fellow students noticed an odour.
The terms of reference of Toogood's investigation were announced by the university today as it promised the findings would be made public.
"Mr Toogood's finding will be made public as soon as possible after an exhaustive and thorough investigation," University Council head Chancellor Sue McCormack said.
"Confidentiality and sensitivity in the process is paramount. Full support will be offered to those impacted.
"A confidential email account will be set up so that anyone with concerns or information can contact him personally."
Vice-Chancellor Professor Cheryl de la Rey said the university would assist fully with the investigation and was doing everything it could to support the work of the police and the Coroner.
"The support of students remains our priority and student care support services are readily available to students, including academic support, counselling, health and wellbeing and financial," she said.
"Again, on behalf of the Chancellor and myself we extend our deepest sympathies to the family."
About two thirds of the university's on-site students live in accommodation managed by Campus Living Villages (CLV). The multinational company has more than 45,000 students in its care internationally including at Massey and Victoria universities.
CLV's Group Managing Director John Schroder welcomed Toogood's appointment and said it was essential the facts surrounding this event are thoroughly and independently investigated.
"It is important that someone with the Hon Toogood's experience is available to lead the investigation and we are collaborating with the University, as well as providing input into the police and coronial work," Schroder said.
Schroder said CLV had given input for the terms of reference for the inquiry and would continue to provide full access to all relevant information and data.
"At the same time, we are conducting our own internal review of systems and processes," he said.
"While everyone is trying to understand exactly what happened, we are also mindful of the impact this event is having on others.
"The last thing we want to do is add unnecessarily to people's existing levels of grief and stress."
Schroder said increased support resources had been put in place at all the company's accommodation at the University of Canterbury.
"Over the past week we have been undertaking checks on all students in our accommodation to ensure they are all okay, in addition we have made available professional counselling to students, RAs and staff," he said.
"We have also deployed extra staff to support our existing team and extra security at night.
"Our priority remains the wellbeing of our students and our staff and that they have access to available support services".
Summary of Terms of Reference
The aim and scope of the investigation is to establish:
• The circumstances surrounding the delay in the discovery of Pendrous' death.
• Whether any concerns about Pendrous' welfare were raised by any party with UC, CLV, or anyone else.
• Whether there was any response to any such concerns.
• The policies, processes and procedures in place at UC and CLV to monitor and respond to student welfare issues at Sonoda, and whether those policies were adhered to.
• Whether any improvements to those policies, processes and procedures are recommended by the investigator, and any additional policies, processes or procedures required; and
• Any other relevant matter that the Investigator considers necessary.