Ivy League Student Will Carry a Mattress Everywhere to Protest Her Alleged Rapist (VIDEO)

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A student at Columbia University is doing everything in her power to keep herself from becoming a powerless victim of a sexual crime. Emma Sulkowicz, 21, has turned a horrific sexual attack that she says took place on the first day of her sophomore year at the Ivy League institution into a sort-of performance art -- one that she hopes will make a big impact. The senior has been carrying a mattress EVERYWHERE she goes and says she will continue to do so until the university takes her alleged rape seriously and boots the suspect out of school.

Sulkowicz, who is majoring in visual arts, says she was raped in her dorm room by a classmate. For two years, she says, she has been trying to convince everyone from college administrators to police and friends that she was raped -- but that the situation has been largely ignored because the incident took place in her room.

The student says she lives in fear of her alleged rapist and that he has continued to harass her on occasion -- most notably last semester when she was working in the photography department's dark room and he reportedly asked his professor for permission to work with her. She says the incident made her cry and hyperventilate and that "even seeing people who look remotely" like her rapist scares her.

With no one taking her complaint seriously, Sulkowicz decided to take things into her own hands and protest the way the college was handling things by carrying around a twin-size dorm mattress to classes, appointments -- basically, everywhere. She says her dorm room has become "fraught" for her and has made a video about her horrific experience called Mattress Performance or Carry That Weight.

She is also one of 23 students who has filed a federal complaint against Columbia for allegedly not handling sexual-assault cases properly.

This young girl is setting a good example for others who feel powerless after becoming victims of sexual attacks. She continues to hold her head up high and refuses to allow anyone to brush off what she says happened to her. If carrying a mattress is the one way she can make others aware of what has happened to her, then more power to her.

Here's the video Sulkowicz created:

Do you think this student's act of protest is effective?


Image via US CPSC/Flickr

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tbruc... tbrucemom

I think there's more to this story...

nonmember avatar Michael

Did she file a report with the police when it happened or did she just report it to the campus?

AliPa... AliParker

I just don't see how making life harder on herself is helping anything or anyone. Especially herself. This cannot be a comfortable, easy task. And as blunt as it is to say it can't be helping her make friends or move on either. Without actual evidence I can see the school not kicking the boy out. It's sad to say but men get falsely accused of rape everyday. They can't just kick a person out of school because she said to. If he is guilty I hope they find out soon enough and deal with it properly. But as for the carrying a mattress, I just don't see how it's helping.

nonmember avatar meghan

@tbruce, what makes you say that?

tbruc... tbrucemom

meghan-the fact that even her friends don't believe her story. Not uncommon for police and schools to sometimes have doubts, but not your friends. Along with her making a video about her carrying around a mattress. People react diffently but it just seems like this is an odd way to seek justice.

nonmember avatar Annette

Just because they don't believe her doesn't mean it didn't happen. My friends we're friends with my rapist too, so was hard for them to believe. All that that meant was I needed better friends. I was unable to leave my home for years. Good for her for standing up for herself, for being strong enough to keep living her life. Shame on all of you.

tbruc... tbrucemom

I didn't say it DIDN'T happen. I just think there's more to the story because of what was written. Unfortunately sexual assaut is common on college campuses but there also are a lot of falsely reported rapes due to regret.

nonmember avatar phoenix

Brucedmom- you're perpetuating a stereotype. "A lot of falsely reported rapes due to regret." No, no no. But it gives you a nice reason to reflexively doubt victims, right? Find numbers. Rape is a horribly under reported crime already

Hocke... HockeyMomNJ

I don't see how carrying around a mattress everywhere is going to help anything. I really don't mean to sound flippant, but wouldn't it be easier to carry a sign or something? I don't see how lugging a mattress to classes will help you with feeling powerless. I think many of these cases end up being he said / she said, unfortunately. There's also info not in this article. How she filed a report, with who, when - if she went to a hospital, etc. I find it a little hard to believe that the cops and admin are blowing this off simply because it took place in her room.

nonmember avatar guest

Although her way of protesting seems moving, it's not the logical step to take. If you have been raped, you need to involve law enforcement, lawyers, and contact legal personal. This feel-good, pull-on-everyone's-hearstrings story of carrying your mattress around isn't doing anything. It's more of an emotional thing. The smart thing to do is try to prove that you were raped.

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