While most students at Columbia University will spend the first day of classes carrying backpacks and books, Emma Sulkowicz will start her semester on Tuesday with a far heavier burden. The senior plans on carrying an extra-long, twin-size mattress across the quad and through each New York City building – to every class, every day – until the man she says raped her moves off campus.
‘I was raped in my own bed,’ Sulkowicz told me the other day, as she was gearing up to head back to school in this, the year American colleges are finally, supposedly, ready to do something about sexual assault. ‘I could have taken my pillow, but I want people to see how it weighs down a person to be ignored by the school administration and harassed by police.’
"My husband and I recently had four concert tickets to Country Stomp here in Boise. When the two of us were going into the show, we gave the last two tickets away to a couple that was waiting to buy them at the booth outside. They were grateful, and my husband just told them to pay it forward someday. He’s big on that."
Alone is what I have. Alone protects me.