Date
25 September 2017
Emma Sulkowicz says she will carry her mattress everywhere she goes on the Columbia University campus until her rapist is expelled or leaves. Photo: Columbia Daily Spectator
Emma Sulkowicz says she will carry her mattress everywhere she goes on the Columbia University campus until her rapist is expelled or leaves. Photo: Columbia Daily Spectator

Why this student is dragging her mattress around the campus

It took a lot of courage for rape victim Emma Sulkowicz to tell her story and a whole lot more to make a video of it and post it on YouTube.

Now it’s taking her more than anything most women would bear.

Sulkowicz, a senior student at Columbia University, will drag her mattress everywhere she goes on campus until her rapist is expelled or leaves, according to the Huffington Post.

The unusual protest could last one day or her entire time at the Ivy League university.

She said she was raped on the same mattress by a classmate on the first day of her sophomore year. 

Two other women came forward to say they had been assaulted by the same student but all believe their cases were mishandled, in part by mistake-riddled record-keeping on the part of university authorities, so their attacker remains free.

Sulkowicz was one of 23 students who filed a federal complaint against Columbia for mishandling sexual assault cases, in violation of the gender equity law. The United States Department of Education has yet to determine whether it will investigate the university, according to the report.

As a visual arts student, Sulkowicz sees the project not just as a call for justice but as form of self-expression.

Her senior thesis, titled Carry That Weight, is a literal expression of the emotional burden of her experience.  

“I’m hoping that not only do I get better at carrying the mattress, but… I’m very interested in seeing where this piece goes and what sort of life it takes on,” she said.

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