Emma Sulkowicz, who started an unusual protest on campus against her rapist by carrying a large, twin-size dorm room mattress everywhere.
The 21-year-old senior took the initiative as part of her performance art thesis entitled “Carry That Weight.”
She started 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 – and will continue to do so until the man who allegedly raped her is expelled or leaves college.
After the news of her “mattress protest” went viral, several women, including the ones in her own college, responded in solidarity with Sulkowicz, shouldering her burden – both literally and figuratively.
A new project called “Carrying the Weight Together” began, organized by Barnard University student Allie Rickard who, along with other campus activists, is helping Sulkowicz carry the heavy dorm mattress to wherever she goes.
According to Rickard:
“When I first heard about Emma Sulkowicz's performance art as protest and senior thesis Carry That Weight/Mattress Performance, I immediately noticed a tangible and meaningful way I—along with any other member of our community—could get involved on a daily basis in ending sexual violence and rape culture at our university. Let's help Emma carry her mattress every day.”
Not only is the group “Carrying the Weight Together” is helping Sulkowicz with the mattress, but they have also started a social media campaign #carrythatweight to spread awareness about sexual assault cases on campuses.
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Sulkowicz is one of 23 students who filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education, claiming the Ivy League institution mishandles sexual assault cases and makes 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 it, saying it was inadequate, and written entirely without any student input.
For more information on Sulkowicz’s story, read this link.