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College Art Student Will Carry a Mattress Around Campus Until Action Is Taken Against Her Alleged Rapist

A Columbia University student named Emma Sulkowicz says that her school and local authorities have taken no action against a fellow student that she says raped her in her own dorm room. Two of her classmates have also said the same individual sexually assaulted them, but despite the pleas to school officials and police, he has not been expelled, and according to New York Magazine, “all of their claims were swept under the rug.” She and 22 other Columbia students have filed a Title IX complaint against Columbia for improperly handling accusations of sexual assault, but now Sulkowicz is going one step further to draw attention to the case.

A visual arts major, Sulkowicz has created a performance-art style senior thesis called Mattress Performance or Carry That Weight. Until the alleged rapist is expelled from school—and she is no longer forced to share a campus with him—Sulkowicz is carrying a dorm-room mattress with her wherever she goes. In a video about the project, she explained, “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” …

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