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UPDATED: Columbia student carries mattress around campus after rape claims denied

UPDATED: Columbia student carries mattress around campus after rape claims denied

Campus tribunals are ill-equipped to deal with alleged major felonies

This is a thing that’s actually happening at Columbia University in New York City.

Rather than taking her allegations of rape to local law enforcement, Emma Sulkowicz has decided to carry around her mattress as long as her alleged rapist remains on campus. Sulkowicz didn’t report the rape immediately after it happened, but was convinced to report the alleged incident months later. The case was ultimately dismissed by university authorities.

According to the Columbia Spectator:

As long as her alleged rapist goes to Columbia, Emma Sulkowicz, CC ’15, plans on carrying a navy blue, extra-long twin-sized mattress wherever she goes.

Entitled “Carry That Weight,” the mattress is both the visual art major’s senior thesis and a step in her journey to come to terms with her experience. Over the past year, Sulkowicz has become a prominent critic of the University’s sexual assault adjudication policies, retelling her story to various administrators and media organizations to raise awareness.

“The past year of my life has been really marked by telling people what happened in that most intimate and private space,” Sulkowicz said, referring to the dorm bed where she was allegedly raped on the second night of her sophomore year.

“I was raped in my own dorm bed and since then, that space has become fraught for me. I feel like I’ve carried the weight of what happened there since then,” she added.

Months after her alleged rape, Emma reported the incident to the school. Her case, one of three individual complaints filed against the same student, was closed, and her rapist found “not responsible.” She appealed, but it was denied and the decision was upheld.

Sulkowicz has turned what she says was a horrible tragedy into performance art.

Performance art that will suffice as her senior thesis. A fact I’ll just leave there without commenting on further:

Sulkowicz plead her case to the university. But why didn’t she go to the police?

Why rely upon the school’s justice system to take action? 

Cases like this highlight what seems to be a growing problem in higher education.

Professor Jacobson wrote about a similar case in May, also occurring at Columbia. A male former Columbia student filed a complaint with a federal court in New York alleging he was found guilty of sexual assault by university officials based on weak evidence. He also claimed he was denied proper due process proceedings.

Legal Insurrection frequently writes about the death of due process on college campuses.

Serious allegations would be better be handled by law enforcement equipped to handle them and by a justice system designed to dispense justice as opposed to whatever is most politically expedient.

Sulkowicz made this argument herself in an interview with Time:

Ultimately they decided he wasn’t guilty. I appealed, but appeals go to the dean who basically has the autonomy to make the final decision for every case of sexual assault on campus. That’s not right. They either must find a disinterested party or they should train him because he hasn’t been trained to know to deal with survivors.

I think the school is pressured to find him not guilty because up until now Columbia could just push these things under the rug and no one would know. But that means the Columbia administration is harboring serial rapists on campus. They’re more concerned about their public image than keeping people safe.

Rape and sexual assault are major felonies.  Treat them that way.


In an interview, Sulkowicz discussed her experience with the NYPD:

Emma, as well, reported to the police. As much as her attempts to work with the New York Police Department have already been documented, she reiterates to me how disconcerting the experience has been. “The first responder told me that what happened to me was consensual because I’d had sex with him before. I have [heard from the NYPD since], but just after being mishandled by them as well, I just didn’t feel safe or comfortable talking to them anymore, and they passed the case on to the district attorney’s office, who contacted me and said it would take up to nine months or a year for it to go to court. By then I would have graduated, and if I sit around waiting for that, I’ll be missing out on other opportunities like creating this piece, or doing other work, it’ll just be a waste of my time.” In short, she has been unable to work with the NYPD.

All accounts vaguely indicate Sulkowicz chose not to pursue her case with the NYPD. It took Columbia seven months to deal with the case once it was reported.

We still maintain major felonies should be treated as such.

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Sandra Fluke redux!

It’s possible that a rape allegation reported months later could be proved, but the likelihood is vanishingly small. Women who are raped should go to the police promptly. In most places police have been trained in procedures which will get evidence and testimony without undue extra stress on the complainant.

A complaint filed with the university, months later, and used as the subject for a performance art project does not give the impression of being a serious rape charge.

    Bruce Hayden in reply to tarheelkate. | September 7, 2014 at 9:45 am

    I agree. Without any physical evidence, they are left with he-says/she-says. As is, they are faced with expelling the alleged perp on her say-so alone, after she waited so long to make her complaint.

shes only doing it for the art crap.
if she was raped and didn’t file an official complaint then tough sh*t.
and if she really was and doesn’t file formal complaint she may have just enabled the guy to rape others…well done you performance art wh*re.

this crap pisses me off.
its a felony.
call the cops.
grow the fk up.

    platypus in reply to dmacleo. | September 7, 2014 at 1:33 am

    Why grow up when she’s getting so much attention? BTW, anybody guess what the next installment of The Little Raped Princess is about?

    She’ll arrange with some guy to “rape” her on her prop mattress while a bunch of “onlookers” record the whole episode on cell phones. The guy will have some inane lines to utter that fit in with the Dworkin mindset so as to provide a sound track to little mizz precious being “victimized” yet again right in front of everybody because it’s now common knowledge that the campus admin protects rapists.

    Letting her stay on campus is grounds for the dean to be fired. If I was a student there, I’d demand a refund.

One of the people commenting on this on Facebook excused Sulkowicz’ failure to go to the police by saying she had been discouraged from doing so by the university.

At what age, or in what year of college, does a woman learn that rape is a crime and that it needs to be handled by the police?

If you’re afraid you won’t be treated well by the police, I’m sure the campus rape crisis counselors could provide an advocate to go to the station with you, but if you decline to report it, it’s on you.

    If the University discouraged her from reporting it, then they are parties to the concealment of a crime. Misprison of a Felony. Someone should be in an ivy covered prison cell.

    Many women don’t report rape because they are too traumatized or embarrassed to report it. Her turning it into a public spectacle kinda negates that argument, though. In any event, if you want to see justice done, the victim has a duty to society.

Both Columbia and the Male accused have causes of action against Ms. Sulkowicz for defamation per se. She calls him a serial rapist, and accuses the university of harboring him.

Both should sue civilly.

    Ok. After reading this bimbo’s story, I have even LESS respect for her. The standard of proof for the Columbia internal process is preponderance. She couldn’t even convince the internal investigator that it was more likely than not, and she wants Columbia to dismiss some one from campus based on her word?

    She went to the police a YEAR and a half later, and expects them to do something about it? Not a chance!!! Further, she might, maybe, have an assault claim. After reading her story, she might have been able to make an Assault Family Violence charge stick if she had some marks on her and had pictures. AFV usually also covers “dating” relationships, which exist even with one hook-up. But the consent to the sexual activity is necessarily going to knock out the “rape” claim. That consent doesn’t seem to have been withdrawn until mid-act, and it seems once withdrawn, it appears he DID stop.

    I’ll restate: he should sue her for defamation, with each and every posting or graffiti being a separate count.

      sequester in reply to Chuck Skinner. | September 6, 2014 at 10:18 pm

      She is a child. We are raising of generation of people who will never grow up.

      sequester in reply to Chuck Skinner. | September 6, 2014 at 10:22 pm

      This event occurred in New York City. The NYPD only investigates the most serious of offenses. Years back my car was hit by a driver who left the scene. The license plate was duly noted. The responding officers refused to run the plate and told me to contact my insurance company with the information.

      A body damage hit an run was not going to cause a police alert in New York at that time. If anything this caterwauling will be given even less credence.

        tphillip in reply to sequester. | September 7, 2014 at 8:09 am

        “This event occurred in New York City. The NYPD only investigates the most serious of offenses”

        Nice. Equating the police response to your hit and run with investigation of rape. Do you hate all police so much that you’ll trot out strawmen on a whim, or just the NYPD?

        Post some evidence that NYPD doesn’t investigate rapes, and stop equating hit and runs with rape. Unless you are trying to show the world that you’re bitter, which in that case Congratulations!

    If he sues her for defamation, the onus of proof shifts to him. To prevail he’d have to prove that he didn’t rape her, and how could he do that? Ditto for the university; it would have to prove he didn’t rape her, and it’s even less able to do so than he is, since it doesn’t even have his memories, and can’t be sure he didn’t do it.

      MouseTheLuckyDog in reply to Milhouse. | September 7, 2014 at 4:08 am

      If he decides to sue for defamation, then he has to prove that she said defamatory things.

      Once he proves this ( which should be fairly simple ), she can then defend herself against defamation by proving the claims were true.

      The burden of proof still remains on her.

        It is comments like this one that are reason enough to read comment threads on this blog EVERY DAY. You never know when someone is going to clarify a point of law, information that you will never regret learning because you’ll never guess when you’ll need it.

        Nicely done, mouse.

      snopercod in reply to Milhouse. | September 7, 2014 at 7:56 am

      “ could he do that?” He could go on national TV, wag his finger at the camera, and proclaim, “I did NOT have sexual relations with that woman, Ms. Sulkowicz.” Hey, it worked for Bill Clinton, right?

        platypus in reply to snopercod. | September 8, 2014 at 12:58 pm

        Except BJ Clintoon was lying through his teeth using an old Southern mind trick (it ain’t sex if it ain’t that biblical knowledge thing). So if Unidentified Male were to do this, he’d be convicting himself AND destroying his anonymity.

      Gremlin1974 in reply to Milhouse. | September 7, 2014 at 3:42 pm

      Actually he has an investigation by the university that found no wrong doing, that should help.

So girls with their mattress on their back really exists.

    gospace in reply to Old0311. | September 6, 2014 at 9:30 pm

    Yes, they do. But the last, and indeed, only one I’ve seen was waiting on the pier for her husband as the boat I was on returned from a 6 month WESPAC in 1981.

How does she expect anyone to take her allegations seriously?
She doesn’t!!

    It’s far worse than that. If by chance the authorities do take her seriously, arrest the Male, and conduct a series of serious interviews with her, the performance art that she has been working on will be ruined. Which of course will be the Male’s fault. Again.

    Observer in reply to Exiliado. | September 6, 2014 at 9:58 pm

    Exactly. This woman is not a child. She is an adult, and in college, so one would presume that she is reasonably intelligent and well informed. She knows, or certainly should know at this point in her life, that rape is a serious crime that should be reported immediately to the police so that evidence can be documented and preserved and a criminal prosecution of the rapist initiated.

    Not only did this woman not report the alleged rape to police, but she waited months before even reporting it to school authorities. That behavior is not consistent with her claim of being a victim of rape. It appears to be more consistent with someone who had a consensual sexual encounter that she later regretted.

    Char Char Binks in reply to Exiliado. | September 7, 2014 at 3:07 pm

    We have to take her seriously, she’s a woman. Women, children, and blacks must always be believed.

The police don’t dispense “Social” justice.

I have read about this particular case and she did go to the police. She chose not to pursue the complaint after it was sent to the DA. She also filed against the school but thought that the investigator asking her the same question over and over again (you know like a good investigator does) was really annoying. The cops were prepared to go after the guy and she called them off. Now who’s fault is that?

Here is an excerpt from an interview conducted by that was published on 9/4/14, with link.

“The last time we spoke you said you had filed a report with the NYPD and they were starting to investigate. What is the status of that?
It got transferred to the district attorney’s office, and I decided I didn’t want to pursue it any further because they told it me it would take nine months to a year to actually go to court, which would be after I graduated and probably wanting to erase all of my memories of Columbia from my brain anyway, so I decided not to pursue it.

Did the police seem to think there was a case there to pursue?
Yeah, they were going to contact the other women who reported against him, and they would have subpoenaed the information from the university files.

You were also hoping to file a complaint with the police regarding how you were treated. What happened with that?
I was contacted by an investigator who was really, really annoying to work with. He would call me randomly, and make me repeat everything that happened. He kept telling me I had to come into the station, and obviously I don’t want to deal with the police any more right now. It’s so disorganized, and it’s really upsetting to work with them at all.”

She also lied in the interview with

“Have you considered pursing a civil suit?
No, I haven’t. I think right now I have a lot on my plate.”

Mrs. Sulkowicz has indeed considered a civil suit since she is part of a Title IX suit that was filed in April, a fact she was well aware of during this interview.

“Sulkowicz is one of 23 students who are part of a federal Title IX complaint filed against Columbia in April for mishandling sexual-assault cases.”

She also claims that she didn’t know that carrying a mattress around campus would draw attention and is saying that all the reporters are “triggering rape memories”.

Now let me be clear, if this guy raped this girl, just give him to me, we can save the Courts time and the Taxpayers money and I promise he will never bother anyone again, just don’t ask about my methods. But something is not right here.

The cops were perfectly willing to go after the guy, the DA was ready to contact his other accusers, who are anonymous, and start building a case then she called them off. Then she filed some other kind of complaint and was apparently annoyed that they needed to ask her questions? So instead of pursuing the proper legal action she decides to draw attention to herself by carrying a mattress around campus. Yea, I am calling a flag on this one, sorry.

    sequester in reply to Gremlin1974. | September 7, 2014 at 9:55 am

    One New York City criminal defense lawyer wrote:

    It is important to note that the focus of the NYPD SVU is to prosecute as many people as possible for sexual assault. Their investigations are tilted in favor of the alleged victim and any statements he/she makes. That is if there is no medical evidence of a sexual assault, but the victim insists that as assault in fact occurred, the NYPD will make an arrest anyway’

    It speaks volumes that the police did not make an arrest and only forwarded their information to the District Attorney’s Office. Most likely the NYPD did not think there was a credible claim.

    This New York Times story details the stories of women who made rape allegations that were dropped by the NYPD.

    platypus in reply to Gremlin1974. | September 8, 2014 at 1:05 pm

    I think it’s worth noting that it is well known in police circles that a troublesome case can be dumped by sending over to the prosecutor, who does the deed and blames the law/courts/judges/evidence.

    Most cops have a drama filter which scrapes the excess drama off the top, much as a pool sweeper does. A small red dot in a certain place on a police report is all that’s needed to label a case as junk.

I haven’t read this young woman’s story, and I won’t get into it as I believe it is both a farce and an act of pushing the “social justice” envelope to make males on campus even more of a hate-target, a vanishing breed.

My question: who is the “person” who “convinced” her to report this and attempt to “press charges” (if that is the correct term for getting the university involved in investigating the alleged rape)? That instigator needs to be outed!!

He/she/they must have seen a likely low-information, Ivy League lemming-target who would carry the “war on women” and “rape culture is RAAAAAAAMPPPAAAANNNTTT on college campuses” social justice agenda banner.

BINGO! Excellent choice!!! Give the instigator(s) a prize!!!!!

She’s getting the attention they so desperately seek.

    That’s if any aspect of this is true whatsoever. For all I know, perhaps making a false allegation is part of the art aspect. You know, to prove how powerful the patriarch is that the system is biased against her claims, which should be believed uncritically.

      karl_lembke in reply to JBourque. | September 6, 2014 at 11:45 pm

      If it’s performance art, maybe another performance artist needs to follow her around with a sign that reads:

      John 5:8 – “Jesus saith unto him, Rise, take up thy bed, and walk”

      platypus in reply to JBourque. | September 8, 2014 at 1:06 pm

      Is it possible she wanted sex and he refused? Just asking.

“but appeals go to the dean who basically has the autonomy to make the final decision for every case of sexual assault on campus. That’s not right.”

It’s also not true. Deans are not lawyers, they are not judges and they are not investigators; nor should they be. If Sulkowicz had taken this case to the police the dean would have the justice system, and it’s result, as something concrete to go on.

This is the problem with today’s social justice warriors, they make wild claims that are simply not true, package them up into nice little soundbites that can be demagogued by politicians and wannabe journalists (ahem Time magazine), and then try to fire up a frenzy when the issue they caused doesn’t get an intended result. Worse, she is actually using theses tools to smear another person who has been exonerated by the university. This shouldn’t be allowed on campus, yet it is.

    DINORightMarie in reply to Trip. | September 6, 2014 at 10:50 pm

    I believe that each school, to fulfill DoJ and other federal requirements to address the “rape culture” on campuses, actually expect these college Inquisitions to occur. The dean may, in fact, have the ability on “appeal” to decide that the “preponderance of the evidence” leads him to declare that the male target in question is “guilty” and expel him, force his public records to carry that he was found “guilty” of a campus rape, and THEN the police may also be called in for further, criminal charges.

    So, while technically you are correct that the dean is not a “lawyer,” “investigator,” or a “judge” the current toxic system of forced adherence to bogus regulations, combined with the reduced requirements for “proof” of “alleged rape” to merely show a “preponderance of the evidence,” seems to actually make that statement true.

Maybe she is rehearsing for carrying all that student debt?

Her senior ‘thesis’ is performance art ?!

I have no clue what her major is, but with that as the thesis requirement it’s not one that will serve her well in securing a well paying job.

She’ll wind up being a barista somewhere and most of her pay will be taken in the multiple decades it will take for her to retire her student loan.(unless she’s from a very well to do family, then all bets are off.)

And she’ll be lucky to even wind up as that barista now that her face and name have been plastered over the ‘net.

Who would reasonably take such a risk to hire someone like this? MS magazine, or Cosmo, maybe?

    clintack in reply to Miles. | September 7, 2014 at 12:40 pm

    Yeah, this.

    She’s getting an ivy league degree, and *this* is her senior thesis?


    Also, note that she’s vastly narrowed her future dating and career opportunities. For the rest of her life, this controversy will fill the first several pages over her google profile. Not smart.

If she does get an “A” on her senior thesis, it should be scarlet.

She’s dragging a mattress around but it was too much trouble to talk to the police. She’s dragging a mattress around but doesn’t want the publicity that it generates.

This is nonsense. The less attention, the better.

BannedbytheGuardian | September 7, 2014 at 1:16 am

I decided against playing this in the interests of my pup’s sanity. It is too early for him to know humans can be so stupid .

MouseTheLuckyDog | September 7, 2014 at 4:14 am

I’m surprised that her teachers allow her to carry a mattress into their classes.

PersonFromPorlock | September 7, 2014 at 8:41 am

One point in her favor: if that’s a real mattress, she’s doing real work just hauling it around. Presumably, that shows she’s serious.

Of course, it may just be a block of low-density foam inside a mattress cover.

This case is troubling. The girl’s claim is that she willingly went to bed with the accused, and then he violently forced her to have rough (anal) sex. If true, that’s the crime of rape in every state in the union. It’s also a very hard case to prove. If she had gone to the police right away, there might be physical evidence (e.g., bruising) supporting her claim. In addition, if she had been willing to see the case to trial, the evidence that the accused had done the same thing to other girls would come in as pattern and practice evidence. I suppose that’s why the police and DA were willing to pursue the case. Given the difficulties of proving her case, however, and that problems created by her failure to report it right away, I can’t blame her (assuming she’s telling the truth) for attempting to shame her alleged attacker rather than suing him.

The lesson here is that coeds who believe that they have been raped must be strongly encouraged to report the crime immediately to the police, who have the expertise to develop evidence necessary to prove a case.

    Gremlin1974 in reply to DouglasLevene. | September 7, 2014 at 3:50 pm

    Actually I was a GI nurse for 5 years and if he did “force her to have violent anal sex” there could be evidence left behind, no pun intended and that is a graphic as I am willing to get.

    However, at this point the question would be did the evidence come from that sexual encounter or one that she has had since that time.

    This case just becomes stranger and stranger the more I find out. This has the feel of a case that we will hear about in a few months being a complete fabrication, but I could be wrong.

She did report it to the police, but her case was dismissed for the same reason it was dismissed at Columbia: there was no evidence of rape. Her story is basically that she agreed to have sex, but then told him to stop in the middle. He went on for longer and then stopped without ejaculating. It’s nearly impossible to prove that he went longer than she consented to, especially when he didn’t come.

He is the one who can sue her for defamation of character, because she ruined his life and can’t prove that what she alleged was true. The burden is on her to prove that it happened.

before the advent of forensic science, rape cases and all crimes are resolved mostly solely by testimonies alone. the bible says the testimonies of two or three witnesses are enough to convict. so I think the women who are accusing the guy of rape should be given a fair hearing in court and let us see if their testimonies are credible.

    Gremlin1974 in reply to dneuwen. | September 7, 2014 at 3:53 pm

    Hey, she called the DA off and apparently the other 2 have never come forward, except maybe to the University.

    To me this actually sounds like a case of Morning after regret, but I could be completely out in left field and climbing the bleachers.

      platypus in reply to Gremlin1974. | September 8, 2014 at 1:14 pm

      As I have gotten older, I have come to the conclusion that climbing the bleachers in left field is actually quite rational if one is only trying to watch the gunfight on the field and not participate. Just saying.

Char Char Binks | September 7, 2014 at 3:12 pm

She’s a skank, and this is another nail in the coffin of Ivy League prestige.

She turns her rape into “performance art?”

Anyone who has any contact with rape victims can tell you, flat-out with a high degree of certainty: this lying little “artist” was not assaulted.

Duke Lacrosse all over again.

A brief synopsis may be in order. In August, after prior consensual sex, victim and suspect (using terms as claimed by subject of this post) again dated and began sexual intercourse. Victim claimed suspect struck her, and then forcibly had anal (rather than her preferred vaginal) intercourse, while she said “No, No!”. He left. Victim told no one – friend or family, made no contemporaneous notes, sought no medical treatment, spoke to no counselor or person in authority, and in short, guaranteed that as a practical matter, the ostensible rape could never be proven or disproven short of the alleged suspect confessing. About 8 months later (in April), she made a complain to the university after supposedly hearing other women complain about the same male raping them. There was a hearing per procedure, and the finding was – essentially – not sustained, a level more defined than “not guilty” apparently.
The victim then eventually – now some year or more after the incident – made a police report. It was duly investigated, the suspect – unsurprisingly – did not confess, and the police and prosecutor had little choice but to round file the complaint.
I am hard pressed to think of what else anyone in authority could have done differently. It is nothing more than he said/she said, with zero physical evidence, and zero corroboration (such as contemporaneous statements to others), which even had such existed, probably been insufficient to rise beyond strong suspicion. All of the inability of those in authority is the direct responsibility of the supposed victim, for her inaction to seek redress immediately. Yes, yes, I know, she was so traumatized. But even so, if she wanted something done, then I suppose she needed to act like an adult – you know, like the adult she was acting like when she began the consensual relationship in the first place – and even today, accept some responsibility for her own poor choices and actions, or in this case, poor choices and inaction.

didn’t “having a mattress strapped to her back” used to be a way to describe a ‘ho ?

It’s much more convenient and safe to just make accusations and grandstand as a victim than to actually have to go in and you know provide evidence.

Is there any equivalent anywhere that men can accuse women of and have the ostracized from society and thrown out of their current endeavor with ZERO proof?

    Phillep Harding in reply to brainpimp. | September 8, 2014 at 1:58 pm

    Not that I know of, currently. Used to be, yes.

    Except it was usually other women ganging up on someone and destroying her.