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The Daily Wildcat


Students carry their mattress in solidarity

Rebecca Marie Sasnett

Simone La Londe, a sophomore studying public health and Spanish, tapes a sign to a mattress during Feminists Organized to Resist, Create and Empower’s sexual assault booth on the UA Mall on Wednesday. FORCE included a mattress at its table to show solidarity with Emma Sulkowicz, a student at Columbia University who is carrying around the mattress upon which she was sexually assaulted until her rapist is expelled from the university or she graduates.

Students from SPEAC and FORCE carried and displayed pillows and a mattress on the UA Mall on Wednesday to stand in solidarity with a student at Columbia University who was sexually assaulted.

Students Promoting Empowerment and Consent and Feminists Organized to Resist, Create and Empower are student groups that combat sexual assault, domestic violence and stalking. Similar acts of solidarity are happening at campuses across the U.S. For the UA, FORCE requested students who wished to take part to carry a pillow with them rather than a mattress. The mattress and pillows displayed the hashtag #CarryThatWeight.

Mallory Corrus, a political science senior, said an incident at Columbia University was what sparked the protests. Emma Sulkowicz, a student at Columbia, was sexually assaulted and started carrying her mattress around campus to represent the burden of being a sexual assault survivor after the university did not expel the perpetrator.

Jane Otenyo, a public health senior, said it was significant because it was the same mattress that she was assaulted on.

“[Sulkowicz] made a pledge to herself that she was not going to stop carrying that mattress around until her perpetrator is either expelled or she graduates from school,” Otenyo said. “I think that speaks volumes about the weight that she has to carry around. Not only the psychological and emotional stress of the assault, but also the mattress.”

Corrus said Sulkowicz’s friends organized this day for students across the nation to carry mattresses around their campus as a sign of support for sexual assault survivors.

“It’s a serious problem that universities have not done an adequate job addressing across the board,” Corrus said.

The mattress at the booth for the event displayed a sign stating “Ask us about our mattress,” and a banner with hands that invited individuals to sign a pledge against domestic and sexual assault. The banner prompted a community member to come over and share her story with one of the people at the table.

Julie Wernick, a mathematics freshman, said she was participating by carrying her pillow with a sign saying “carry that weight” pinned to it to show support for sexual assault victims.

“I’m carrying a pillow today to show support for victims of sexual assault, to show them they are not alone and that campuses need to make a change with their policies,” Wernick said.


Follow Ariella Noth on Twitter.

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