Women's Issues

Student Takes Matters Into Her Own Hands When Ivy League College Refuses To Expel Her Rapist

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Screen Shot 2014-09-03 at 7.34.44 AMOn the first day of her sophomore year of college, Emma Sulkowicz alleges she was raped in her dorm room by a classmate. Since then, she claims she’s had an uphill battle trying to convince administrators and police that she was, in fact, attacked. Now a senior, Emma has framed her senior thesis around a performance of sorts. She is carrying her mattress around on her back until she sees her attacker expelled. I can’t believe this is what it takes to get a rape accusation taken seriously.

Twenty-three student are a part of a federal Title IX complaint filed against Columbia in April for mishandling sexual assault. I don’t know if you saw the long list of colleges that were included in the complaint, but it was staggering. Two other students also reported being raped by Sulkowicz’s same attacker. He still has not been expelled.

Sulkowicz plans to carry around a dorm room twin mattress everywhere she goes on campus “for as long as I attend the same school as my rapist.” She said in a video for the Columbia Spectator:

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.”

It’s simply not okay that so many universities have failed to take sexual assault complaints seriously. There was the story of the college that assigned a book report as a punishment for a campus rapist. Then of course the famous story of Florida State’s star athlete Jameis Winston, who won a Heisman trophy a month after state prosecutors revealed that they would not press charges stemming from a rape allegation. FSU never even held a disciplinary hearing to deal with the allegations.

Women like Sulkowicz have to stand up for themselves and take matters into there own hands. This is not okay. She should not have to walk around with a memory of her attack literally on her shoulders to get some attention so someone will take her allegations seriously.