US student carries mattress to protest action on rape case

A Columbia University student is carrying her dorm room mattress everywhere she goes on campus.

Miss Emma Sulkowicz, 21, wants to protest the fact that her alleged rapist has not been expelled.

She started the new semester on Tuesday by carrying the extra-long twin-size mattress through each New York City building - to every class, every day - until the man moves off campus.

She was allegedly raped by a classmate on the first day of her sophomore year, nymag.com reported.

Now a senior majoring in visual arts, Miss Sulkowicz has devised a senior thesis rooted in performance art that will allow her to protest the fact that her rapist continues to study on campus.

Ever since the incident, she said she has spent a substantial amount of her time at the university trying to convince college administrators, police, and even friends that the incident happened and that the alleged rapist deserves to be punished for what he did.

She is among a group of 23 students who are part of a complaint filed against the university in April for mishandling sexual-assault cases.

MORE THAN ONE VICTIM

Although she and two other students reported that the same student had assaulted them, all of their claims were allegedly swept under the carpet and the male student was not expelled from campus.

"Every day, I am afraid to leave my room," Miss Sulkowicz wrote in Time magazine in May.

"Even seeing people who look remotely like my rapist scares me."

"Last semester, I was working in the dark room in the photography department. Though my rapist wasn't in my class, he asked permission from his teacher to come and work in the dark room during my class time."

"I started crying and hyperventilating."

"As long as he's on campus with me, he can continue to harass me."

"I was raped in my own dorm bed, and since then, that space has become fraught for me," she says in a video about the piece, called Mattress Performance or Carry That Weight, published by the university newspaper.

"And I feel like I've carried the weight of what happened there with me everywhere since then."


This article was first published on September 04, 2014.
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