Columbia student Emma Sulkowicz vows to carry mattress around university until her alleged rapist is expelled

Ms Sulkowicz's protest forms part of her thesis 'mattress performance'

A student is dragging her mattress around university every day until her alleged rapist is removed from classes.

Columbia University student Emma Sulkowicz says she was attacked in her own dorm room by a classmate almost two years ago.

The visual art student says that since the alleged attack, she feels "like I've carried the weight of what happened there with me everywhere since then".

Her senior thesis, entitled 'Mattress Performance' or 'Carry That Weight,' embodies the concept of this emotional burden in the form of an "endurance art piece".

Her project will involve her carrying the mattress everywhere until the man is expelled, meaning she could be carrying it every day until she graduates.

She said: “A mattress is the perfect size for me to just be able to carry it enough that I can continue with my day, but also heavy enough so that I have to continually struggle with it.”

Ms Sulkowicz first reported the incident to the college over two-years-ago, but the man accused was found not to be responsible.

After going public with her story in April, she has joined other women campaigning against the university for what they describe as its failures to deal with sexual assault.

"The past year or so of my life has been really marked by telling people what happened in that most intimate private space and bringing it out into the light," she says.

"So I think the act of carrying something that is normally found in our bedroom out into the light is supposed to mirror the way I've talked to the media and talked to different news channels, etc."

For the project, Ms Sulkowicz said she is not allowed to ask for help in carrying the mattress around, but will accept help that is offered.

"I'm hoping that not only do I get better at carrying the mattress, but, that, other people will learn about the piece [...] I'm very interested in seeing where this piece goes and what sort of life it takes on," she added.

In a statement, Columbia University said: "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.

"The University therefore does not comment on these matters."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer - Junior / Mid Weight

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: To support their continued grow...

Recruitment Genius: Marketing Data Specialist

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are the go-to company for ...

Recruitment Genius: Search Marketing Specialist - PPC / SEO

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join the UK's leadin...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This caravan dealership are currently recruiti...

Day In a Page

Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test