Columbia Students Help Classmate Emma Sulkowicz Carry The Mattress On Which She Was Raped

Columbia University senior Emma Sulkowicz made headlines earlier this month by carrying her twin-size mattress with her everywhere, in order to draw attention to the fact that the student who raped her has not been expelled.

Sulkowicz was raped in her dorm bed during her sophomore year; two other students have claimed the same rapist assaulted them. As she wrote on TIME.com, all three cases were dismissed. Due to Columbia’s mishandling of the assaults, Sulkowicz has filed a federal Title IX complaint with 23 other students. But for her senior thesis, the visual arts major is carrying her 50 lb. mattress everywhere she goes on campus as performance art/protest called “Mattress Performance/Carry That Weight,” highlighting the fact the rapist still attends the school. She told NYMag.com’s The Cut blog in an interview:

“I thought about how I was raped in my own bed at Columbia; and how the mattress represents a private place where a lot of your intimate life happens; and how I have brought my life out in front for the public to see; and the act of bringing something private and intimate out into the public mirrors the way my life has been. Also the mattress as a burden, because of what has happened there, that has turned my own relationship with my bed into something fraught.”

Now, the student newspaper the Columbia Spectator reports that other students are helping Sulkowicz carry her mattress in a show of support. A group called Carrying The Weight Together on campus organized the “collective carry,” as the Spectator put it, to support Sulkowicz and to emphasize to the school administration their support. (Sulkowicz also reported her sexual assault to the police; she told the blog Bwog that the responding police officer told her “that what happened to me was consensual because I’d had sex with him before.”)

Sulkowicz has vowed to carry her mattress everyone on campus for as long as her rapist still attends Columbia.

[Columbia Spectator]
[NYmag.com The Cut (1)]
[NYmag.com The Cut (2)]
[TIME]
[Bwog]

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[Image used with permission via Flickr user InSapphoWeTrust]