Emma Sulkowicz, the Columbia University student who has been carrying her mattress around campus to raise awareness about sexual assault, will accompany Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) to Tuesday’s State of the Union address.
As a co-sponsor of the Campus Safety and Accountability Act, Gillibrand says she is pushing for Obama to address campus sexual assault in his speech, especially as he unveils his plan to make two years of community college free for all Americans. “I hope the President will seize this opportunity to shine a national spotlight on the need to flip the incentives that currently reward colleges for sweeping sexual assaults under the rug,” she told the New York Daily News.
Sulkowicz, 22, has been carrying her mattress around campus as part of her senior thesis about campus sexual assault. She says that after she was raped by a classmate in 2012, Columbia failed to punish her attacker. Although two other women also publicly accused the same man of assault, the university found him “not responsible.” Sulkowicz has been carrying her mattress everywhere she goes on campus to call attention to the issue, but she won’t be brining her mattress to the State of the Union.
“The Columbia administration is harboring serial rapists on campus,” Sulkowicz wrote in an op-ed for Time.com. (The university declined to comment in response to the article.) The accused student has also spoken out. He says his encounters with Sulkowicz and the other students were entirely consensual.