To protest rape, US student brings mattress to graduation ceremony

20 May 2015 / 12:21 H.

    NEW YORK: A Columbia University student walked into a graduation ceremony on Tuesday carrying her mattress to protest the school's failure to expel her alleged rapist.
    Emma Sulkowicz, who accused fellow student Paul Nungesser of sexually assaulting her during her sophomore year in 2012, has been carrying her dorm room mattress all over campus since last fall.
    She has said that she hoped her act would result in Nungesser's expulsion.
    The visual arts student received loud applause as she carried her mattress across the stage during the graduation ceremony, according to video posted by the Columbia Spectator, the student newspaper.
    "That is it! All graduates (and one mattress) have walked across the stage," Teo Armus, a student wrote on his Twitter account.
    A Columbia University tribunal cleared Nungesser of all charges, maintaining that the encounter was consensual.
    Nungesser, who also graduated on Tuesday, sued university president and an art professor last month for allowing the accuser to defame him by carrying mattress in the school.
    Nungesser's exoneration did not dissuade Sulkowicz, who insisted that the sex began consensually, but then turned violent.
    She dragged the mattress around the campus and into classes for her visual arts senior thesis, dubbed as Mattress Performance (Carry That Weight).
    Sexual assault has been a pervasive problem on college campuses.
    Escalating sexual assault reports from across the country prompted President Barack Obama to launch a task force in early 2014 to examine the issue.
    "An estimated one in five women has been sexually assaulted during her college years – one in five," President Obama said as he launched It's On Us, an awareness campaign to help put an end to sexual assaults on colleges campuses last September. – dpa

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