MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Metropolitan State University sent out an email to students Wednesday saying that there was a “racially motivated physical assault” on its St. Paul campus.

The university says the assault happened near the New Main building, at the intersection of East Seventh Street and Maria Avenue.

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St. Paul police say officers responded to the assault around 1:45 p.m. The 55-year-old victim told officers he was sitting on the steps when another man approached him, asked where he was from and why he was in the country before hitting him in the face.

The blow left the victim with a cut near his left eye and swelling. He told officers his assaulter walked off on Seventh Street toward Swede Hallow Park.

“It’s concerning to us when anyone is assaulted. But it’s really concerning when someone is assaulted based on a bias or someone’s ethnicity,” Sgt. Mike Ernster said.

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As soon as the assault occurred the university notified students through texts, emails, and phone calls, and they also put up safety alerts around campus.

“This was quite the shock yesterday. So we wanted to notify the campus community and make sure folks were vigilant as they were walking around and being aware of their surroundings,” Tracy Hatch, with Metropolitan State University, said.

Extra officers and security were added to the area, as students went about their business. They say they are here to learn, not look over their shoulder.

The victim described the suspect as a white man with gray hair standing about 5-feet-7-inches tall. He was wearing a white T-shirt and yellow pants.

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The assaulter has not been located.

John Lauritsen