Many Elmhurst students and faculty are quite shaken. The campus was on lockdown for about an hour Thursday night. Classes resumed Friday morning as regularly scheduled--with one specific difference: There was a great deal more security and escorts for students who asked for them.
The attack Thursday night around 8:30 occurred in the Schaible Science Center. An Elmhurst College sophomore studying late entered a bathroom and was jumped by a man in a ski mask who struck her with the butt end of a gun.
"She received a concussion, a bruise on her side, and she passed out," said Soofia Ahmed, a good friend of the victim. They are both Muslim, both born and raised in the Chicago area.
The college believes the incident may have been a hate crime.
"We're leaning that direction, yes, we are. Since this morning, a crime alert has been posted that does say this is reported as a hate crime," said Charles Henderson, Elmhurst College spokesman.
The same student who was attacked Thursday night discovered threatening graffiti in her locker just eight days ago. The words "Die Muslims, rid us of your filth" were scrawled in magic marker on her locker along with a swastika. It is front page news in the college newspaper and the school started an investigation.
"We don't accept hate, and the fact that it's happening is unbelievable," said Libby Glass, Elmhurst College student.
"This is something that's shocking to us. It's something that I would have never expected here. But everybody says that until it happens," said Justin Tierney, Elmhurst College student.
Friday, students held an impassioned rally to deplore the incident and appeal for information to find the attacker.
"We in the administration and all of us here on the college community, as you've heard, are doing everything we can to work with law enforcement, to identify the perpetrator of this incident and restore this campus to the great institution that we all know that it is," said Alan Ray, Elmhurst College president.
The Elmhurst sophomore who was attacked suffered a concussion but did not require hospital treatment. The assailant had a gun but didn't use it and apparently made a very quick exit.
If there are any leads or suspects in the investigation, at this point, they have not been made public. The Elmhurst Police Department is the lead agency, and so far, they have declined any comment.