Emma Sulkowicz carries a mattress as protest as she walks the campus of Columbia University. The college student is protesting the university's response to her report that a fellow student raped her. Sulkowicz wants the alleged rapist expelled; Columbia University did nothing.
Sulkowicz, an art student at Columbia, considers carrying the mattress as protest to be an "art piece" as well as a demonstration. According to her, another student raped her in her bed at her Columbia University dorm room on Aug. 27, 2012. It was the first day of her sophomore year at the Ivy League school.
According to a Sept. 3, 2014 report by NBC, Sulkowicz will stop carrying the mattress as protest as soon as Columbia University expels her alleged attacker. "I will carry a mattress for every day I go to school with him this next semester, everywhere I go on campus," she said. "The administration can end my art piece at any moment by just expelling my rapist."
She reported the incident to the school the year after it happened, in April 2013. A "slow and insensitive" investigation and hearing ensued. Seven months later, school officials deemed her alleged attacker "not responsible" for the incident. In May 2014, Sulkowicz finally went to the police. She filed a rape report, but the New York Police Department (NYPD) did not make an arrest in the case.
"It was so late in the game that the police had no evidence to go off of," Sulkowicz said.
Columbia University Director of Communications Victoria Benitez released a statement regarding Emma Sulkowicz's post-modern art project-cum-protest.
"The University respects the choice of any member of our community to peacefully express personal or political views on this and other issues. At the same time, the University is committed to protecting the privacy of students participating in gender-based misconduct proceedings. These matters are extremely sensitive, and we do not want to deter survivors from reporting them."
Heavy reported that Sulkowicz's performance art piece is entitled "Carry That Weight." It will be included in her thesis with Columbia's visual arts department.