A man followed a 24-year-old woman along the border of Washington Square Park before he grabbed her from behind, beat her and raped her outside an NYU facility early Thursday morning, authorities said.
The woman was attacked at about 5:30 a.m. as she was unlocking a door at NYU's Catholic Center on Thompson Street, near West Third Street.
The suspect ripped her clothes off and raped her before fleeing.
NYU officials said the man is believed to have followed her along the south side of Washington Square Park before he grabbed her.
Police say the suspect was wearing a gray sweatshirt and jeans, a fedora and had a bandage on his arm.
NYU's Department of Public Safety sent an email to the NYU community, reminding everyone to be aware of their surroundings, especially during overnight hours, and travel in pairs when possible.
"Plan your route so that you use, to the greatest extent possible, well-lit and populated streets," the email said.
Some students said they were rattled by the news.
"I was kind of stunned," said Kathleen Barkats. "I had no idea something like that would happen, especially at that time of day."