As Columbia student, Emma Sulkowicz, carried her mattress to her convocation today to protest her alleged rape case, we can’t help think about all the other cases that go unnoticed. While Emma makes headlines today for her commendable efforts, her alleged rapist still attends the prestigious institution- without any consequences.
Google Emma Sulkowicz and the first suggestion that shows up is liar. She was raped by a fellow classmate the first day of my sophomore year, back in 2013. She failed to report the incident at first because she didn’t feel like dealing with the emotional trauma. It was after she met two other women who were assaulted by the same person that she decided to speak up. All three of them pressed charges. All three charges were dismissed.
She started the Carry That Weight Mattress Project, where she began carrying a standard issue dorm mattress with her around campus as a symbol of the weight she carries as a rape survivor. Her actions garnered significant attention and started a social media revolution.
President of Columbia, Lee Bollinger, decided to make his own statement today at convocation when he refused to shake Emma’s hand. According to Times, who has followed the story since the beginning, “Bollinger was shaking the students’ hands when he turned his back and leaned down as though to pick something up from his seat. Ms. Sulkowicz leaned over the mattress, trying to catch his eye, then straightened up and kept walking.”
Emma’s journey through higher education may have ended, but she has truly left a legacy on campuses across North America. Her story is a reminder of the challenges rape victims have to face and the lack of action campuses are still failing to take to provide justice for these women. Emma Sulkowicz did what many rape victims fear to do; tell her story. And for that and your many other accomplishments, Emma, we congratulate you.