Kumail Akbar ’12 was walking by President Michael Roth’s house on his way from his home on 250 Court St. to 200 Church at approximately 11:50 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 13 when he was struck on the head with a spray paint can.
According to Akbar, he was walking by the President’s home when he noticed two suspicious men—one of them he described as white and holding what turned out to be the spray can, and the other was tall and dark-skinned—who did not look like students, walking up to the President’s house.
“They rushed over to the President’s residence,” he said. “The taller guy stayed outside while the other one crept up to his front door. They were planning to wreck the door or spray graffiti on it or something,” Akbar said.
At this time, Akbar said he took out his phone to call his friends while continuing to walk. He heard the taller man call off the operation and thought he had inadvertently saved the President’s door. The assailant, he said, then came up from behind and struck him on the head with the spray can. By the time Akbar got up from the ground, the men had jumped into a run-down white sedan, which was occupied by several other people. Akbar said the men were laughing as the car sped away.
Akbar’s phone was wrecked from the fall so he walked to 200 Church where a friend called Public Safety (PSafe). Akbar was then taken to Middlesex Hospital where he received five staples for his head wound.
Akbar said he was unhappy with the way he was treated by PSafe that night. Akbar alleges that when his friend called PSafe, the officer who picked up immediately began asking for descriptions of the assailants without first inquiring about his medical condition.
“Amongst the first questions that the officers asked was ‘what was the race of the people who struck you?’” Akbar said. “I chose to tell the officers I do not identify criminals by the color of their skin or by their race simply because I didn’t feel like it was the right question at the right time. It’s understandable that you require this information to identify criminals, but for an officer to just come up and ask that [immediately], it just struck me as a hidden form of stereotyping.”
According to Director of Public Safety David Meyer, the question of race was not immediately put forth and an ambulance was dispatched in a timely fashion.
“Race was not the first question,” Meyer wrote in an e-mail to The Argus. “Less than 45 seconds into the call we realized the victim needed medical attention and immediately called for an ambulance.”
According to Akbar, his refusal to immediately answer the PSafe officer’s questions resulted in PSafe’s suspicion that he was intentionally withholding information. After being released from the hospital, PSafe visited Akbar’s dorm room to further question him and the friend who had called PSafe on his behalf.
“What was appalling was that he maintained a very accusatory line by saying that he didn’t believe I was giving him all the information,” he said. “He believed that I either had issues with somebody on campus or somebody off campus. I didn’t give him a lot of details just then and there [after the ambulance arrived] simply because I was suffering from the shock of a blow to my head and also because you can’t perfectly answer all questions with three [EMTs] all over your head, examining you,” he said.
Akbar has since sent an email to Roth, Vice President of Student Affairs Michael Whaley, and other administrators detailing the problems he had with PSafe’s handling of the situation. PSafe is currently conducting an internal investigation of Akbar’s allegations, and Meyer said he has no further comment until it concludes later this week. The University’s findings will appear in Friday’s Argus.