Days after the story of a Columbia University student who is carrying her mattress to protest the presence of her alleged rapist on campus, Columbia students joined a large rally Friday on campus to show support for survivors of sexual violence at the university.
Called Stand with Survivors, the rally “will give a chance for students and alumni survivors to discuss their own experiences with sexual assault and Columbia’s adjudication process,” according to Columbia student newspaper The Daily Spectator.
Students also brought their own mattresses in support of Emma Sulkowicz, who has been carrying her mattress for over a week. She has said she will carry the mattress as part of a performance art piece until her alleged rapist leaves Columbia, either by university action or his own volition.
Students have been rallying behind mattresses taped up to read “Carry That Weight,” the title of Sulkowicz’ piece.
Here are some of the images coming out of Columbia this afternoon:
Students have brought mattresses to the front of Low Library.
According to the Spectator, a group of students also met with Columbia University President Lee Bollinger to ask for additional changes to the school’s sexual assault policies. Columbia has recently been criticised for not listening to student activists when it updated the school’s sexual assault policies this summer.
The Spectator is also running a live blog of the rally. Here’s one exerpt from 12:43 Friday afternoon:
One former Barnard student — who was raped her freshman year and then left school — calls for the administrators to take action, but says that she’s inspired by activism at Columbia, Barnard, and other schools across the country. “You guys have already won. There are hundreds of women on this campus…who no longer feel alone because you stood up and started fighting back.”
The issue of sexual assault on college campuses has come to the forefront in recent months as students at universities across the country have spoken out about their own experiences and alleged mishandling of their cases by their schools.
In May, the federal government released a list of 55 colleges being investigated for potential sexual assault policy violations after revealing in January that students “experience some of the highest rates of sexual assault” in the country. The list has now increased to more than 70 schools.
Additionally, many student groups are advocating for better sexual assault policies, including a landmark sexual assault complaint filed by 23 Columbia University students in April.
We have reached out to Columbia for a comment about the student rally and will update with any response.
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