Assaulted student says he was dismissed by NYU Campus Safety

Four NYU students were attacked near Washington Square in the past two weeks. The most recent victim said Campus Safety initially downplayed his assault.


Manasa Gudavalli

The NYU Stern School of Business is located at 44 W. Fourth St. Four students were attacked nearby in the past two weeks. (Staff Photo by Manasa Gudavalli)

Lauren Ashe, Senior Staff Writer

In three recent incidents, students walking on NYU’s Washington Square campus were struck without warning by a passerby — described in each case as a male with a light complexion and blond hair — according to a Thursday email from NYU’s campus safety department. One victim, SPS senior AJ Sun, said that NYU initially did not take his report of the attack seriously.

Sun was punched by a stranger near the Stern School of Business on Tuesday, days after another student was assaulted on Feb. 13 and two students were assaulted on Feb. 7.

According to Sun, Campus Safety initially told him that the incident did not meet the requirements for a universitywide alert.

“The campus security simply took a record of my incident and expressed no concerns towards me,” Sun wrote. “He didn’t even say a simple ‘I’m sorry this happened to you,’ but constantly stressed that ‘this happens all the time.’ As if I didn’t know that before.”

Around 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 15, Sun was suddenly punched in the left side of his head by a white male who then fled the scene. The next day, he posted on social media calling on NYU to protect Asian students in the wake of his assault, which he said was an anti-Asian hate crime. On Thursday afternoon, more than a week after the first incident and two days after the most recent incident, the university informed the student body of the attacks.



View this post on Instagram


A post shared by AJ Sun (@ajjingyansun)

“They could’ve done it way earlier, but they only did it now because everyone is upset,” Sun wrote to WSN after hearing about the email Thursday evening.

In the Feb. 17 email, campus safety chief Fountain Walker said that at least two of the four victims are Asian. Walker acknowledged concerns of anti-Asian hate, but said that Campus Safety is unsure whether the incidents were related to the race of the victims. Though the assailant was described similarly in each case, Campus Safety also could not determine if it was the same person.

At this point, we cannot say with certainty whether the three incidents involve the same assailant,” Walker wrote in the email. “Under any circumstances, these attacks are disturbing, and our concerns are compounded by the troubling possibility of anti-Asian bias, which has been a worrisomely growing phenomenon, playing a role.”

After the assault occurred, Sun contacted Campus Safety immediately to send an officer to report the incident. When Sun asked if he should file a police report, he said the officer told him that it would be unlikely for the New York City Police Department to take action since he did not have a serious injury. In New York state, victims of a crime are entitled to a police report regardless of physical injuries sustained.

Sun and one of the other victims plan to file police reports about their assaults. An NYU spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Gabriel Hawthorne and Kristian Burt contributed reporting.

Contact Lauren Ashe at [email protected].