Matt Calantas says campus police would only say the scene of the incident -- an intersection surrounded by buildings tied to the university -- is outside their jurisdiction.
Calantas says trouble started when he gave his horn a quick honk to alert a jaywalker near the campus. The honk apparently set off the man, who, according to Calantas, then "kicked my driver's side mirror."
The UW senior pulled over to call 911 and track the jaywalker on foot.
"I had no intention of confronting him; I just wanted to give the police an idea of where he was at," he said.
A dispatcher told Calantas Seattle police would respond, but officers were tied up with other calls.
Calantas decided to keep following the man, who attacked Calantas with pepper spray moments later.
"The mace got all across the side of my head," he said.
An hour later, Calantas was still waiting for Seattle police to arrive when he saw several campus police officers driving by on patrol.
Flagging them down didn't work, so Calantas' girlfriend called campus police.
"And the operator, all he could tell me was, 'Oh, I can transfer you to SPD because it's out of our jurisdiction,'" said Andriela Gaerlan.
UW police told KOMO News their primary jurisdiction is the campus, but the department does respond outside its jurisdiction when people or property are in danger.
A UW police spokesman said officers were in the area to search for the suspect, who ultimately got away. But no one contacted the victim.
Calantas and his girlfriend say it seemed like they were left on their own.
"I just didn't feel safe," said Gaerlan.
"More people should be aware that that's how that's happening. That's how UWPD deals with things, and that needs to change," Calentas.
It is unclear what other calls campus police may have been responding to at the time, but a Seattle officer did eventually show up and take a report.
Calantas says he is worried about the next near-campus crime victim who may need help.