A University Student In New York Is Carrying Around Her Mattress Until Her Rapist Is Expelled

Emma Sulkowicz will carry it everywhere, symbolising the weight she is carrying emotionally following the rape


by Fiona Byrne |
Published on

Calls for appropriate action by faculties when dealing with campus rape are about to get a whole lot louder if one New York rape victim has anything to do with it.

Emma Sulkowicz, a fourth-year student at Columbia University in New York City, was raped in her own dorm room bed two years ago. After college authorities refused to expel her rapist, she decided to bring light to the subject of college rape through a performance art piece which she says will continue until her attacker is brought to justice.

For her final year thesis entitled Mattress Performance or Carry That Weight, Emma will carry her dorm room mattress with her everywhere, symbolising the weight she is carrying emotionally following the rape and the failure of her college to punish her rapist. It’s simultaneously an art piece and a protest.

After a testimony in which her rapist said the attack was consensual sex, the dean of the college decided to let him continue to attend classes there. Emma is afraid every time she leaves her room. Her rapist even asked a professor if he could use the dark room at the same time as her, even though he wasn’t in her class.

Emma says she is ‘fraught’ since her attack, and waited a while to report it because she didn’t feel like dealing with her emotions. It was only after two other women told her they had also been raped by the same guy that she decided to come forward. The other two women also reported their attacks. All three cases were dismissed.

Colleges in the US in general have been notoriously lax in dealing with rapists. In April, a group of students filed a federal complaint against Columbia for mishandling sexual assault claims.

Meanwhile, California took a step in the right direction last week, when it passed a ground-breaking law that requires ‘an affirmative, conscious and voluntary agreement to engage in sexual activity’ for it to be considered consensual. That means, even if the woman was silent (or unable to speak, as would be the case with date rape drugs or if she was otherwise unconscious) then it would be considered rape.

And, arguably, the situation in UK universities isn’t much better. Earlier this week, one Oxford student’s account of her sexual assault not being taken seriously by the authorities went viral on Reddit – and example, she told us, of why more young women need to speak out about why this is happening.

And now we can all help crack down on it. Mattress in hand or not.

**Read this? Then you might also be interested in: **

One Girl’s Blog ‘I Was Raped At Oxford University And Police Pressured Me Into Dropping Charges Is Going Viral On Reddit’

It’s Pretty Depressing That So Many Of Us Have Been Masturbated At Against Our Will

She’s Good Enough For A Blowjob, and Other Misogyny Overheard At Oxford Uni

This Video Of A Cambridge Drinking Society Chanting ‘Rape, Rape, Rape’ Is Seriously Grim

This article originally appeared on The Debrief.

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