Student attacked in campus housing complex: “They sang about the coronavirus and pulled out knives”
“It’s only now starting to sink in what has happened,” Tilburg University student Cindy (24) tells Univers. She suffered a concussion and other injuries on Saturday, after being attacked in student housing complex Intermezzo by a group of young men. They were singing a song about the coronavirus and pulled out knives.
“I’m trying my best to remember what happened, but the concussion makes it difficult. I think I took a hard fall to the floor, so I don’t recall what was said exactly,” Cindy says by telephone.
“What I remember is getting in the elevator around 23.30 to pick up my mail. A group of four or five men stepped into the elevator on the fifth or sixth floor. One of them was wearing a pink wig and a sort of glitter suit. They started singing a Carnaval song about the coronavirus,” the Dutch student from Chinese descent recalls.
“I told them to stop. They started pushing me, after which I told them to stop again. Then they pulled out knives and said they would eradicate the coronavirus. The first thing I remember after that is waking up on the floor with several injuries.”
Cindy is currently not staying at her Tilburg student accommodation. She no longer feels safe there. “My family doesn’t want me to return at all. They think it’s too dangerous.” She herself is still doubting about returning: “I’m too anxious to return right now, but I also don’t want to be bullied into leaving.”
“Why would people do this, what is going through their minds?”
When asked how she is feeling now, Cindy says: “That’s hard to describe. I’m angry over what happened. At the same time, I don’t want to be resentful. I have lots of Dutch friends who are super kind to me.”
Cindy hopes that what happened to her can be an eyeopener for people who think it’s harmless to joke about Asians and the coronavirus. “The Asian community is a vulnerable group that is frequently targeted by racism, but often remains silent about it. I hope my experience can lead to more understanding. I keep asking myself: why would people do this, what is going through their minds?”
Looking for witnesses
In a Facebook group for residents of student housing complex Intermezzo, Cindy has posted a call for information in the hope that witnesses come forward. “If anyone has seen or heard anything that Saturday night, or may possibly have any piece of information, no matter how small, please contact me.”
The Facebook post was met by an outpouring of support and good wishes from students, with some offering to cook for Cindy or to bring her groceries. She also received several personal messages from people who may have seen something. “I asked them to share that information with the police.”
In the meantime, the Tilburg police has launched a neighborhood investigation. Investigators are seeking out potential camera footage. For Cindy, it’s now a matter of awaiting the outcomes of the investigation. On Tuesday, she officially reported the crime to the police.
Witnesses are asked to contact the Leijdal police team in Tilburg. Information can also be reported at 0900-8844, or anonymously to Meld Misdaad Anoniem at 0800-7000.