Germ reported earlier this week about Emma Sulkowicz, the Columbia University senior who is carrying her mattress around with her on campus as a visual protest of the administration’s mishandling of her “alleged” rape at the hands of a fellow student. Sulkowicz is a visual arts major who has made this her senior thesis. She has vowed to carry her mattress with her everywhere on campus (to the cafeteria, to classes, etc.) until her rapist is expelled.
Initially unsure as to how both the University and her fellow students would take the project, Sulkowicz has a reason to be proud: Her bravery and courage has allowed an important dialogue to be opened concerning the mishandling of sexual assault cases at both Columbia and other universities all throughout the country. Hundreds of her fellow students have held demonstrations and protests, carrying signs and bearing mattresses with phrases like “CU has a rape problem” on them. What’s even more encouraging is the fact that Emma Sulkowicz has not had to bear her burden alone. Her fellow students, male and female, have come alongside her to literally shoulder her burden with her, helping her carry her mattress all around campus.
There has even been a group established out of this called Carrying The Weight Together; their goal as a group is to organize “collective carries of the mattress by members of the Columbia community to help Emma carry the weight of the physical mattress, give her and other survivors of sexual assault in our community a powerful symbol of our support and solidarity, and show the administration that we stand united in demanding better policies designed to end sexual violence and rape culture on campus.” Visit their website to learn how to get involved in taking a stand against sexual violence on college campuses.
Even though it seems like an enormous, unsolvable problem, students all around America are beginning to rise up and come together to make a change to challenge sexual assault. So let’s join them. Let’s show survivors that they aren’t alone. Let’s show the brave, talented young women of America, women like Emma Sulkowicz, that we can help them achieve justice.