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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.

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. But school officials note a key card isn't required to gain access at all hours of the day, so the time span could have been shorter than that.

An autopsy failed to reveal the cause of death but police say foul play is not suspected. Toxicology testing still needs to be carried out.

Barnes, a Pittsburgh native, was a third-year student specializing in Germanic studies, and the school says it is "making every effort to understand the circumstances surrounding" his death, NBC Chicago reports.

Students say they are disturbed that Barnes' death could have gone unnoticed for so long.

"It's just strange," says a freshman from Tennessee. "How the hell was he there that long? That's frightening."

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