U.S. student to carry dorm-room mattress everywhere until alleged rapist leaves
In this YouTube screengrab, student Emma Sulkowicz carries a dorm-room mattress around as part of a performance art piece called 'Mattress Performance: Carry That Weight.'
Marlene Leung, CTVNews.ca
Published Wednesday, September 3, 2014 2:02PM EDT
A Columbia University senior started off her school year on Tuesday lugging around a single mattress, and says she will continue to carry it until the man she alleges raped her is either expelled or willingly leaves the campus.
Emma Sulkowicz is among 23 students who filed a federal complaint against Columbia last April, for the school's alleged mishandling of assault claims.
Sulkowicz said she was raped by a classmate during her sophomore year at Columbia in 2012. Now, in a video interview with the school’s student newspaper, the visual arts major said she is protesting through a performance art piece.
In an article she wrote for Time magazine last May, Sulkowicz said she didn't report the rape at the time, and only went to school authorities after meeting two other students who claimed they were assaulted by the same man.
All three students reported their cases to school officials in 2013 and all three cases were dismissed at a hearing, where the accused was found not responsible by school officials, Sulkowicz said. In May, she filed a report with the police.
None of the allegations have been proven in a court of law. Sulkowicz and Columbia University did not immediately reply to CTVNews.ca interview requests.
Now, for her senior thesis, Sulkowicz said she will be carrying a dorm-room mattress around with her for as long as her alleged attacker remains at Columbia. She's calling the piece "Mattress Performance: Carry That Weight."
"I will be carrying this dorm-room mattress with me everywhere I go for as long as I attend the same school as my rapist," she told The Columbia's Daily Spectator in a video interview.
"The piece could potentially take a day or it could go on until I graduate."
She said she chose the mattress for her thesis because it was the right size for her to carry around throughout the day, but also "heavy enough that I have to continually struggle with it."
She added that it was also symbolic as it is an item that usually remains in the bedroom, which is often considered a private, intimate space.
"I was raped in my own dorm bed, and since then that space has become fraught for me, and I feel like I've carried the weight of what happened there with me everywhere since then," she said.