At the beginning of the school year, articles started surfacing on the internet of Emma Sulkowicz, a Columbia University student art student whose senior art project revolves around an important social (and for her a deeply personal, topic: rape on college campuses.
In her sophomore year, she was raped in her dorm room by a fellow student, who not only was acquitted for the act, despite having raped two other women, but is still an enrolled student at Columbia. Her project titled “Carry That Weight” involves her carrying her mattress around campus to depict the weight of the burden she lives with due to the assault.
She will continue to carry her mattress from her dorm to her classes and all around campus until her rapist is expelled or leaves school voluntarily. Her rule is that she cannot solicit help from others, but she can accept help if it is offered. A few students have stepped forth already to help. While this issue has been spread around social media, the administrators at Columbia University have yet to take action on this case.
What Can Social Media Do?
Social media is helpful in sharing information and generating conversation about a particular topic. Sharing articles or posting news as a status and using a hashtag allows people to view and comment on the topic. Increasing awareness of important social issues can lead to people standing up and figuring out how they can help.
Widespread coverage of Sulkowicz’s story by websites and social media has been crucial in getting the word out about her project and its addressing of rape on college campuses. Social media does a great job at filling people in about the premise of her influential project.
How Can People Help?
Social media is a great tool for finding out information on this important issue that is still currently going on. While getting people to talk on social media to talk is crucial, it is also important to take action as well. People who see the articles on social media have the ability to put that knowledge to good use. If people see her on campus, they should ask her if she needs help carrying her mattress or even offer to carry it for her. This action sends out the message that people will come together to support and help in the time of need.
What Can People Take Away From Her Project?
By bringing awareness of rape on college campuses to the forefront, Sulkowicz is showing that change starts with speaking out and that she should not have to carry the weight of this social injustice alone. By seeing the impact of her project on the web and social media, students who have been in a similar situation can feel safe to come forward and share stories of their own assault. Hopefully this year long project will reach administrators who will re-open the case and investigate the issue further. A student should not have to bear the burden of the incident alone any further.