Columbia Student: I'll Carry Mattress Until My Rapist Is Expelled

Emma Sulkowicz turns her senior thesis into a statement

By John Johnson,  Newser Staff

Posted Sep 2, 2014 4:25 PM CDT | Updated Sep 6, 2014 7:00 AM CDT

(Newser) – Columbia senior Emma Sulkowicz says school authorities have ignored her allegations that a fellow student raped her in her dorm room on the first day of sophomore year. It's going to be tough to ignore this, however: The visual arts major plans to carry a mattress with her everywhere she goes on campus "for as long as I attend the same school as my rapist," reports New York. Sulkowicz has turned her ordeal into a senior thesis she's calling Mattress Performance: Carry That Weight. “I could have taken my pillow, but I want people to see how it weighs down a person to be ignored by the school administration and harassed by police," she explains to Jessica Valenti of the Guardian.

Two other female students have accused the same male student of rape, and Columbia authorities declared him to be "not responsible" in all three cases. Sulkowicz is one of about two dozen students who have lodged a federal complaint against Columbia over its handling of sexual abuse allegations. She wrote of her experience previously in Time and now speaks to the Columbia Spectator about her project. One of its rules: She's not allowed to ask for help carrying the mattress, but she can accept it if others offer. (Earlier this year, a graffiti vigilante began naming alleged rapists at Columbia.)

A frame grab from video in which Emma Sulkowicz talks to the 'Columbia Spectator' about her project.
A frame grab from video in which Emma Sulkowicz talks to the 'Columbia Spectator' about her project.   (YouTube)
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Emma Sulkowicz talks about her senior thesis.   (YouTube)

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