Not even college graduations are safe from rape culture
Ah yes, Mattress Girl. You may be familiar with Columbia University student Emma Sulkowicz, who carried her mattress around campus in protest after claims she was allegedly raped. Sulkowicz never pressed charges and the university dismissed the case against the alleged offender. By carrying her mattress around, Sulkowicz made national headlines and also earned credit for her performance art.
Over the past few months, Sulkowicz’s version of events have been challenged by Nungesser’s accounting. Nungesser shared his side of the story and provided screen shots of text and Facebook messages to corroborate his recollection of the contentious tale. Following months of defamation due to Sulkowicz’s claims, Nungesser recently filed suit against Columbia University in an effort to clear his name.
Sulkowicz continued to carry her mattress as a protest against campus rape.
At Columbia’s graduation this morning, Sulkowicz’s mattress made it’s final appearance. To a chorus of cheers and applause, Sulkowicz carried her mattress across the stage with the help of three other gals.
According to the Columbia Spectator:
Though a new policy said graduates would be barred from bringing ‘large objects’ to Class Day ceremonies, Spectator news deputy Teo Armus has confirmed that Emma Sulkowicz, CC ’15, was allowed into the Columbia College Class Day tents with her mattress.
Sulkowicz’s senior thesis, “Carry That Weight,” is a performance art piece in which she has carried her mattress around campus until her alleged rapist, Paul Nungesser, CC ’15, is no longer on campus. Nungesser is currently suing Columbia and Sulkowicz’s thesis adviser, visual arts professor Jon Kessler. His suit alleges violations of Title IX in the University’s handling of Sulkowicz’s project.
Professor Jacobson pointed out Sunday how Ambassador Samantha Power decided a commencement speech to Barnard College was the best platform to discuss the proliferation of sexual assault on colleges campuses. In that speech, Power compared Sulkowicz’s performance art to the plight of Afghani women. She later tweeted the comparison.
From a wmn carrying a mattress on her campus to Afghanistan's Wmn's Nat Cycling Team, reaching true equality req showing change is possible.
— Samantha Power (@AmbassadorPower) May 17, 2015
I would like to give Ambassador Power the benefit of the doubt that she failed to follow this story and so was unaware that Sulkowicz’s claims are questionable in light of Nungesser’s evidence. Otherwise, hand-picking Sulkowicz’s performance art as an appropriate equivalent to the fight for women’s rights in the Middle East is as terrible a comparison as I can imagine.
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