A Stony Brook University student was verbally and physically harassed on Aug. 15 at the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) bus stop on Circle Road.
Chaehyun Ko, a senior health sciences student, said she was walking to her off-campus home with a housemate when a woman with a bike spat at them. The woman then grabbed Ko’s hair while yelling slurs at her. Ko defended herself and started filming the woman, who then pushed her bike over and pretended Ko attacked her.
The Stony Brook University Police Department (UPD) is currently investigating the incident.
Though Ko sustained no injuries, she said she is shaken from the violation.
“It was bright outside and so near campus,” Ko said. “How many possibilities are there for [something like this] to happen?”
In a statement to The Statesman, UPD said the suspect is most likely suffering from mental illness and housing insecurity, and that she may be living near the Stony Brook station LIRR waiting room. According to them, the attack was not racially motivated. They are actively looking for the woman to connect her with resources and help.
“I don’t think this person is a violent person,” Deputy Chief of Patrol and Investigations Nelson Castilla said, adding that students should not be worried about this happening to them. “I don’t believe she spends time on campus because we’ve never had any dealings with her before.”
Castilla said in any instance where another person is taking an aggressive stance, students should retreat and then call campus police immediately. Students can also use the campus blue light phones, which will connect to the UPD emergency line. Castilla recommended students download the Rave Guardian app, which also acts as a blue light phone line connected with personal information like vehicle number and food allergies if the student chooses to add those details.
Ko uploaded a picture of the suspect onto her Instagram story after the incident occurred. The woman is wearing black glasses, a brown tank top, black leggings and carries a blue bike with her. Other Stony Brook students reposted the picture onto their own social media as well.
“I just want the school to send out an email to be aware of this lady,” Ko said. “I don’t want her to be on campus and to do this to anyone else.”
Hrithika Paul, a senior business major who reposted Ko’s photo and story, said she was shocked that the incident occurred at Stony Brook University and is worried for her Asian friends.
“At this point we just all have to be on the lookout, which sucks because when we’re on campus we should feel safe,” Paul said. She also plans to only travel in groups around the LIRR portion of campus for now.