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Emma Sulkowicz: Rape victim hauls 'protest' mattress until rapist is expelled

Emma Sulkowicz, a 21-year-old Columbia University student, is carrying her burden for all to see. Sulkowicz, an alleged victim of campus rape, is making a statement – she will carry a bed mattress in protest of her sexual abuse until the university expels the man she says raped her in her dorm room.

Writes the USA Today: “Many victims of rape and sexual assault are reminded of their trauma every day, everywhere. For her senior thesis, a Columbia University art student will carry around a mattress for as long as she and her alleged rapist attend the same school.”

In Sulkowicz’s video, posted by the university’s newspaper The Columbia Daily Spectator, the art major explains her protest piece: “For me, I was raped in my own dorm bed and since then it's become fraught and I feel like I've carried the weight with me everywhere since then.”

Sulkowicz has dubbed her performance art as “Mattress Performance,” or “Carry That Weight,” as named in the YouTube video posted above. Among her rules for her burden-bearing walkabout: She will not ask for help in moving her dorm-sized mattress, but she will readily accept it should another concerned person ask her.

Sulkowicz claims the rape occurred over two years ago, when she was a sophomore. She knows and has identified her attacker to both the University and via a police report, though she did not step forward to immediately report the rape.

Explains Yahoo News:

The 21-year-old says she was raped in her dorm room on the first day of her sophomore year but did not report the alleged attack until she met two other women who said they were also assaulted by the same man. All three reported their cases to the university, and all three say their allegations were dismissed. Sulkowicz filed a police report with the NYPD in May.

In a controversial move, the university paper named the alleged rapist, and then published an article in May explaining why they did so.

“Every day, I'm afraid to leave my room. Even seeing people who look remotely like my rapist scares me… As long as he's on campus with me, he can continue to harass me,” the senior said, adding: “The piece could potentially take a day or go on till I graduate.”

According to Yahoo, Sulkowicz joined 22 other students and filed a federal Title IX complaint claiming that Columbia University botched multiple cases involving sexual abuse of students. The following month, “the names of four alleged perpetrators, including Sulkowicz's, were written on a school bathroom wall and posted on fliers that were distributed across Columbia's New York City campus,” says Yahoo.

Sulkowicz denies she was involved.

Sulkowicz also wrote an essay for Time magazine titled “My Rapist Is Still on Campus.”

“I’m not as nervous about carrying a mattress around as I am with the attention it’s gotten,” she told the Spectator. “Last night, when I was shaking in bed and just thinking about how scary today was going to be, I was thinking about how I’m not really going to have anonymity anymore, which is a really strange thing for me.”