“Every day, I am afraid to leave my room… Even seeing people who look remotely like my rapist scares me.”
There is a reason why Emma Sulkowicz is carrying a large, twin-size dorm room mattress across her campus and through each New York City building every day – to each classroom, library, gym. The reason is rape. Emma says she will continue to do so,until the man who allegedly raped her is expelled or leaves college.
The 21-year-old Columbia University senior is one of 23 students who filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education, claiming the Ivy League institution mishandled sexual assault cases and made it difficult for students to report such attacks.
Columbia University is one of 67 schools facing such accusations. Although the administration revealed a revised and updated sexual assault and harassment policy in August, anti-rape college activists criticized is, saying it was inadequate, written entirely without student input.
Sulkowicz started the unusual protest as part of her performance art project entitled “Carry That Weight” this week.
Emma said she is determined to continue carrying the mattress wherever she goes as long as her alleged rapist is thrown out or leaves himself – which means her project could last until her graduation in May 2015.
“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,” states in her project video.
“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 with me everywhere since then.”
She was also interviewed by TIME magazine for a cover story earlier this year in May.
Find out more about Emma Sulkowicz’s project in the video below.
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