Students Come Together to Help Rape Survivor “Carry That Weight”

Last week, we wrote about Columbia University senior Emma Sulkowicz and her year-long art project of carrying her dorm room mattress with her across campus. Her project—born out of frustration and disappointment over the fact that the man who raped her was not only a free man, but also remained enrolled at her school—is a physical representation of the burden she carries in the wake of the attack.

Her project, which received widespread coverage, struck a chord with fellow students and survivors nation-wide. In a stirring follow-up, it seems that many of her classmates have offered to help Sulkowicz as she lugs the mattress across campus, helping her “carry the weight together.”

Allie Rickard, a senior majoring in Art History and Visual Arts at Barnard College, began recruiting other students to offer their help to Sulkowicz. Together, they scheduled collective carries and on-campus demonstrations.

“Show your support for survivors of sexual and domestic violence at Columbia and Barnard,” reads a post advertising a “Stand with Survivors” rally on the Carrying the Weight Together website. “As survivors, allies, and members of the Columbia community, we will stand together in solidarity with survivors and show that we aren’t willing to put up with the school’s mishandling of sexual violence any longer. There will be a space for speaking out and performing. Bring your mattress as a show of solidarity with Emma and all survivors of sexual violence!”

At the outset of the project, Sulkowicz stipulated that while she would not ask anyone for help, she would accept help if it were offered. This outpouring of support—ranging from the Carrying the Weight Together events to op-eds in the school paper—demonstrates the power and greatness that can occur when people coalesce around a cause.

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