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 today.
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, and fortunately, he was able to walk away with just a swollen eye without an ambulance being called.
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 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 then 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.
The student had 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 Campus Security officer arrived at the scene 10 minutes after being called, and two police officers arrived 40 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 Campus Security officer 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.