Margaret Eby
Updated December 16, 2014 9:14 am

Since September, Columbia University student Emma Sulkowicz, who was raped in her bed by a fellow classmate, has been carrying around her mattress in an act of performance art and protest against the school’s mishandling of sexual assault cases.

Her statement, called Carry That Weight, quickly spread into a national movement called Carry That Weight Together. On October 29, activists across the country rallied to carry mattresses and pillows on campuses to protest sexual assault and rape culture at colleges and universities. That same day activists delivered 28 dorm mattresses to Columbia University President Lee Bollinger’s home to “represent the burden survivors struggle to carry every day.”

Columbia responded to the move by fining the activists for damaging dorm mattresses. “This shows that [Bollinger] would rather throw out survivors’ pain than acknowledge the harm his administration has caused,” a CTWT spokesperson wrote in a statement posted to Facebook yesterday. “It’s reprehensible to make us pay for the trauma that we have endured.”

In a statement to Buzzfeed News regarding the fine, a rep for Columbia stated:

Nonprofit group Ultraviolet helped to pay the fine of $471. And when it was time to deliver the check, the students devised a creative way of presenting the administrators with the money.

Yesterday, the group delivered the fee in the form of a giant novelty check drawn onto a mattress. They also read a letter to President Bollinger when they gave him the funds.

“This is not a cleanup fee, but a punishment for speaking out and it will go into the bank account of a University that has silenced us,” the students wrote. “We dragged our mattresses to your home in an act of desperation: We do not feel safe on this campus, and we fear for the students that come after us. There are rapists in our dorms, our dining halls, our libraries. There are survivors dropping out of school because no one is there to support them. We call on you to take immediate action: engage directly and meaningfully with students, and take our demands seriously.”

The activists concluded the letter with a plea: “Be courageous President Bollinger, your students need you.”

(Images via Facebook)