[ View the story "US university student will carry mattress until her alleged rapist leaves campus" on Storify] US university student will carry mattress until her alleged rapist leaves campus Emma Sulkowicz's performance art piece draws attention to sexual assault on US campuses.
The Stream· Wed, Sep 03 2014 18:32:05
Emma Sulkowicz: "Carry That Weight"columbiaspecvideo
The rape allegedly
during Sulkowicz's sophomore year of school. In a university hearing, her alleged rapist was found "not responsible" and remains at the school. Sulkowicz is now one of 23 students who have
a federal complaint against the university for the mishandling of sexual assault cases.
"While many...are viewing this as a protest, as an art student, I see it more as a piece of art that is so important that I had to do it," Sulkowicz told The Stream via phone. And she says the reaction thus far "has been amazing", with several students offering to help carry the mattress to and from class.
The online reaction has also been positive:
Emma Sulkowicz is a brave woman. Schools needs to take rape allegations seriously. Hope I see her one day with her mattress to offer help!Victoria Buitron
I wish I could carry Emma Sulkowicz's mattress for one day.. But I know it wouldn't actually reduce her pain or burdenStephanie Pistachio
So moved by the work #EmmaSulkowicz is doing. Thank you for standing up for yourself and others. You are my hero. #carrythatweightJillian Salazar
In addition to expressing support for Sulkowicz's performance art, many are also pointing to the growing concern over sexual assault on college campuses, including Columbia University. In May, students
the names of alleged sexual predators in flyers and on bathroom walls, saying they were still on campus.
The US government is currently
more than 75 US schools over their sexual assault policies. According to a government report,
one in five
women will face sexual assault while attending college.
On university campuses, punished for plagiarizing &underage drinking, but not for rape. WTF?! Need accountability&REAL convos abt #consent!Morgan MenesesSheets
it's a shame colleges think ignoring campus sexual assault/rape will make them look betterThot Chocolate
Brave students such as Emma Sulkowicz are committed to highlighting the epidemic of rape on college campuses and seeking justice for the...Travel McTravelton
...horrible crimes committed against them. Emma will be carrying a twin-size dorm mattress, the same type of bed on which a student at...Travel McTravelton
...Columbia University raped her, to all of her classes, appointments, etc to protest the indignity that her school is forcing her to sufferTravel McTravelton
Last week, California became the first state to pass
that would require schools to implement "affirmative consent" sexual assault policies. The bill specifies "lack of protest or resistance does not mean consent, nor does silence mean consent”. Online reactions to the legislation, which still needs to be signed by the governor, have been mixed:
Rape is a sensitve topic, but a relevant one. There should be no confusion w/ consent. We know the difference between YES & NO. #YesMeansYesLisa Lorraine Smith
#YesMeansYes law is an idea that sounds great in theory. In practice, it's a misguided attempt to "solve" a TERRIBLE prob. Legal NIGHTMAREJonathan Franks
Despite attempts to end sexual assault on campus, Sulkowicz's performance art has some asking what they can do to make a difference:
#carrythatweight has got me fired up. How can we turn this into something all women can participate in to create change? @esulkLaura Clevenger