Fellow students help rape survivor carry mattress around campus

For several weeks now, Columbia University senior Emma Sulkowicz has been carrying around her dorm room mattress in protest of the school’s refusal to expel the student who raped her two years ago. The school had found her alleged rapist “not guilty,” and he has since been accused of raping two other women on campus, which the school is also ignoring.

After having attempted every possible channel–from the NYPD to appearing in news conferences to repeatedly trying to get her case appealed by the school’s dean–Sulkowicz decided that she would use her visual arts senior thesis as a way to draw attention to her assault, and says she will carry the mattress around until the school does something.

However, she’s not carrying that weight alone anymore.

While–according to the own rules of her performance art piece–Sulkowicz cannot ask anyone to help her carry her mattress around Columbia University, she is allowed to accept help when offered.

A group of her fellow students, calling themselves “Carrying the Weight Together” have stepped in and are now helping Emma carry the mattress around campus.

According to their website, the group says it’s purpose is to “to help Emma carry the weight of the physical mattress, give her and other survivors of sexual assault in our community a powerful symbol of our support and solidarity, and show the administration that we stand united in demanding better policies designed to end sexual violence and rape culture on campus.”

It sucks that a woman feels she has to drag a mattress around school in order to get anyone to care. It is not just the responsibility of survivors to draw attention to the problem of sexual assault. It is also up to the rest of us to step in and fight for them when they are too tired to do so.