Student carries mattress across campus to bring awareness to sex - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Student carries mattress across campus to bring awareness to sexual assault

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 Most college students start off the school year carrying backpacks and books, but Columbia University senior Emma Sulkowicz, is carrying a *mattress* to her classes.

The Visual Arts major carries the mattress everywhere she goes as her senior thesis, hoping to call attention to sexual assaults on campus.

I will be carrying this dorm room mattress with me everywhere I go for as long as I attend the same school as my rapist.

Sulkowicz claims she was assaulted the first day of her sophomore year.

"I feel like I carried the weight of what happened there with me everywhere since then."

The case against her alleged rapist was dismissed.

Frustrated, Emma and twenty-two other Columbia students filed a federal complaint alleging that the university has mishandled sexual assault cases.

The students say the university is too lenient with alleged offenders and discourages victims from reporting assault.

"I feel like it's taken over my entire college experience."

And she's not alone. one in five women experience rape or attempted rape in college, according to the Centers for Disease Control.  The problem is so big, that the White House assembled a task force to combat the issue earlier this year.

As for Emma, she says that she will carry the mattress until her alleged assailant is either expelled or chooses to leave the school.

Until then, she hopes her activism turned art will make a difference on campus as she told MSNBC's Ronan Farrow.

Emma: "I've personally been so amazed by how much change has happened already in the past year that I've become an activist and I think there's a whole movement starting and I think that's really amazing.

After emma and 22 other students filed a complaint against Columbia, the school unveiled a revamped sexual misconduct policy this summer.  It includes a new office aimed at making sex crime reporting easier for students.
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