SRC 90th Anniversary

Chinese student punched and spat on in racist campus attack

The student was attacked on his first day at USyd by a man that had reportedly been spitting on Asian students that walked by him

A photo of the JFR Plaza at the University of Sydney.

Content warning: racism and violence.

A Chinese international postgraduate student was attacked on campus today by a 30 to 40-year-old man wearing a grey hoodie-jacket. The student was likely one of several Asian students targeted by the man.

The student was spat on, and punched multiple times, including being jabbed in the eye with a key at around 4:45 pm this afternoon. Today was his first day at the University of Sydney. Fortunately, he was able to walk away with just a swollen eye without an ambulance being called.

It is unclear whether the assailant is a student at the University.

Honi spoke to the attacked student and his friend, both of whom preferred to remain anonymous. 

The alleged assailant had been shouting and swearing loudly, and spitting on people as they were using the stairs leading from Wentworth building to the City Road bridge. The pair recounted that the man seemed to be spitting only on those of visibly Asian appearance. He reportedly smelled of alcohol, and was yelling with a slur. 

When the man spat on one of them, the student asked him “What are you doing?” and pushed the man away from him, according to a video seen by Honi. 

Following this, the student was punched in the face, and after retaliating with a punch himself, he was punched a second time. This second punch came with a key held in between the attacker’s fingers, connecting with the student’s left eye.

Only once a threat of the police being called was made did the man leave the scene.

Before today, the student completed a 4-year undergraduate degree at the University of New South Wales, in which he said he never felt racially victimised.

The student said that he was “quite disappointed” that both Campus Security and the police were slow to respond, telling Honi that a staff member from Campus Security arrived at the scene 10 minutes after being called, and 2 police officers arrived forty minutes after called.

The University disputed these figures, suggesting Campus Security arrived in 4 minutes and Police within 10.

A spokesperson told Honi that “any behaviour that is intimidating, abusive or threatening is not welcome on campus and we hope the student is seeking support.”

The University of Sydney Union (USU) also released a statement, calling the wait times “deeply troubling” and emphasising the importance of feeling safe on campus.

“Every student has the right to feel their whole self on campus, and to make no apologies for who they are,” USU President Connor Wherrett said.

A police report was made, and the student told Honi he “want[s] to press charges.”

An attending staff member from Campus Security declined to comment.

Editor’s note: The article was amended on Friday 9 August to include: the interval of time taken for Campus Security and Police to arrive on scene according to the University and the statements from the USU and University.