Girl Protesting Campus Rape Graduates From College. Takes Mattress Too.

Emma Sulkowicz defies uni’s pre-emptive ban on bringing large objects to official ceremony...

Girl Protesting Campus Rape Graduates From College. Takes Mattress Too.

by Sophie Wilkinson |
Published on

Remember the girl who, in protest about her university’s inability to expel the man she claimed who raped her on campus, made a protest by carrying the mattress it happened on everywhere with her? Well, she’s just graduated from Columbia University, New York, and she took the mattress with her.

Emma Sulkowicz’s protest – the one which made her a national hero for speaking out about the sexual violence she’d suffered – was also her final thesis, entitled Mattress Performance or Carry That Weight, and she said it symbolised the emotional weight she carried following the rape and the failure of her university to punish the rapist.

She said she’d carry the mattress until he was expelled, but he wasn’t. The district attorney investigating the case also didn’t charge the German student because there was a ‘lack of reasonable suspicion’ (he said it was consensual sex, so the story is basically now a he-said she-said).

The university pre-empted Emma’s protest at graduation by reportedly banning people from bringing heavy or large objects to the ceremony.

But Emma – along with three friends, all dressed in the traditional graduation garb of gowns and mortarboards – carried the mattress across the stage at graduation and didn't shake the hand of president Lee Bollinger when she accepted her diploma.

Emma told Columbia Spectator’s Teo Armus: ‘The past year of my life has been really marked by telling people what happened in that most intimate and private space.

‘I was raped in my own dorm bed and since then, that space has become fraught for me. I feel like I've carried the weight of what happened there since then.’

While the US government is beginning to assess the prevalence of sexual assault and rape on campuses across the country, Paul Nungesser, the alleged rapist, is suing Columbia for allegedly letting Emma ‘harass’ him. The details of the suit basically argue that Emma was strangely obsessed with Nungesser and must have consented to anal sex with him at some point down the line because she’d once Facebooked Nungesser saying ‘fuck me in the butt.’ Really.

Like this? You might also be interested in:

New York University Student To Carry Around Mattress Until Her Rapist Is Expelled

'Banter' Is Just A Way Of Silencing Rape Culture On Student Campuses

'My Rapist Added Me On Facebook' The Truth About Sexual Assault At Oxford University

Follow Sophie on Twitter @sophwilkinson

This article originally appeared on The Debrief.

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