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Current Events PopWrapped | Current Events

Columbia Student Vows To Carry Mattress Around Campus Until Her Rapist Is Expelled

Brittany Jones | PopWrapped Author

Brittany Jones

09/04/2014 9:55 pm
PopWrapped | Current Events
Columbia Student Vows To Carry Mattress Around Campus Until Her Rapist Is Expelled | Emma Sulkowicz
Media Courtesy of BuzzFeed
The summer is over and school is now back in session. While the students of Columbia University were probably expecting to see different student groups trying to get them to join their organization they were not expecting to see Emma Sulkowicz carrying a mattress around campus. Sulkowicz, a senior visual arts major, has decided that she will no longer allow her alleged rapist to roam freely around the Columbia campus and plans to carry around a mattress to every one of her classes until the man who allegedly sexually assaulted her over two years ago, is expelled or leaves campus.

“I’ll do this until he leaves on his own or if the school expels him — anything that means we’re not going to school together. But I’m prepared to do it until I receive my diploma,” Sulkowicz told BuzzFeed.

Two other women filed complaints against the same student, who Sulkowicz says raped her when she was a sophomore.

The inspiration for carrying around the mattress happened while she was attending a summer residency at Yale and had to carry a mattress out of a bedroom for a video project.

“The idea of me carrying a mattress sort of stuck in my head. I guess I decided to unpack why I was so fascinated with that idea. I was raped in my own dorm bed, so I think the idea of carrying the mattress represented, in my mind, carrying the weight of the memories that I have of that night and carrying the weight of how the school dismissed not only me but the other two women who reported against him, and the way the police harassed me when I reported my case.”

According to Sulkowicz, the accused attacker was allowed to postpone his hearing for about seven to eight months, which resulted in the case being dragged through her summer vacation and gave one of the other women who filed a complaint to graduate.

Sulkowicz has taken every precaution in her plan and has purchased her own mattress, instead of using the one Columbia provides, because students are not allowed to remove furniture from the dorm rooms. She has alerted all of her professors about the art piece, so that they can deny her a spot in their class if they believe she will be too disruptive. All of her professors have been very supportive.

Professors aren't the only ones showing support, but Sulkowicz has received emails, texts, and Facebook messages of positivity. She has, however, gotten one negative response.

This isn't the first time a student at Colombia University has spoken out  about sexual assault, but hopefully because of Sulkowicz's brave act it will draw more attention to this issue.

Colleges and their policies revolving around sexual assault just isn't working and Sulkowicz is hoping that carrying around the mattress and reminding the school officials of the injustice she's had to face will improve how rape culture is dealt with at universities.

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