Columbia Rape Accuser Takes Mattress to Graduation

Emma Sulkowicz, the Columbia University senior who made national news for carrying a mattress to protest the school’s handling of her alleged sexual assault, walked across the stage with her mattress at graduation Tuesday. Guidelines issued Monday said that students would not be allowed to bring large objects into the tents for the ceremonies, but people on the scene say Sulkowicz was allowed to bring the matresss in and carried it in the procession. When her name was called during the class day ceremonies, she carried the mattress across the stage with a handul of friends as the crowd applauded.

Sulkowicz alleges that she was sexually assaulted by another Columbia student in August 2012, during her sophomore year. She filed a complaint against her alleged attacker in April 2013, and he was found “not responsible” by the university that October. She followed up with a complaint to the New York Police Department in the spring of 2014 (police did not pursue charges against the student), and a Title IX complaint against the university that spring.

For her senior thesis in visual arts, Sulkowicz chose to carry around a mattress just like the one she says she was raped on for a piece called Mattress Performance (Carry That Weight). According to the rules of the pieces, she had to carry it whenever she was on university property, though she was allowed to accept help offered in carrying it. Sulkowicz also said she will keep carrying it until her alleged attacker is expelled.