On the first day of her sophomore year, Emma Sulkowicz was raped in her dorm room at Columbia University. Nearly two years later, her accused rapist continues to walk through campus and attend classes. Despite complaints of sexual assault from three separate students, he was found "not responsible" by the school.
The rising senior, who is one of 23 students involved in the federal Title IX complaint issued against the university in April, is now utilizing her thesis to highlight Columbia's sexual assault policies. The university recently announced modifications to its existing process, including "removing students from hearing panels, adding case managers, and opening a 24-hour crisis center."
In the form of "mattress performance," Sulkowicz will carry her dorm room mattress with her everywhere until her accused rapist is expelled from the university. The visual arts major describes the project, titled Carry That Weight, as containing "elements of protest."
"For me, I was raped in my own dorm bed, and since then, that space has become fraught for me," she explains to the Columbia Spectator. "I feel like I've carried the weight of what happened there everywhere since then." See Emma speak on Carry That Weight in the video below.