NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – In the wake of the Ray Rice scandal and reports of on-campus rapes, demonstrators at Columbia University say more attention needs to be paid to the issue of sexual assaults on campus.
As CBS 2’s John Slattery reported, Columbia students and demonstrators spoke out and carried mattresses across campus to make a point.
Whenever Columbia senior Emma Sulkowicz walks on campus, she carries a mattress. She said she was raped on the first day of her sophomore year.
Sulkowicz reported it to the university months later, one of three cases against the same student. The school found the student was not guilty. Sulkowicz appealed, but lost. She told the Columbia Spectator student newspaper that the incident wasn’t properly investigated.
“I was raped by a serial rapist and me and two of the other women he raped took it to the school and the school dismissed all of us,” she said.
Sulkowicz says the accusations were dismissed because it was found to be more likely than not that the rape didn’t happen. But Sulkowicz insists it did; she says the man has merely been ordered not to contact her in any way.
She said she will carry the mattress with her “for as long as I attend the same school as my rapist.”
“I think that our campus is unsafe. My serial rapist was at the local bar last night hitting on other women. Just the fact that he’s still here is disgusting to me,” she said.
Demonstrators at the rally also shared their stories.
“I’m a survivor of sexual assault and I don’t believe the body is something to be conquested over,” another woman told Slattery.
“You can see from all the people that have spoken, rape happens often and all the time and we go to a school that doesn’t support survivors of rape,” Barnard student Juliette Kessler said.
In a statement, the university has said it has updated its sexual assault policy and expanded training for incoming undergrads.
The intent of the demonstration, organizers say, is to heighten awareness that both Columbia and Barnard are not immune to sexual assault and domestic violence.
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