Colleges across the nation are encouraged to participate in the national “Carry That Weight Day of Action” Wednesday to show support to the survivors of sexual and domestic violence by carrying mattresses together.
The event is inspired by Columbia University visual arts senior, Emma Sulkowicz, who has been carrying a mattress across campus since September. As part of her senior thesis and protest against the university for the mishandling of her case, Sulkowicz vowed to lug around the weight of the mattress she said she was raped on, for as long as her alleged rapist attends the school.
Although UH has yet to confirm its participation in the event, colleges such as the University of California at Los Angeles, the University of Texas at San Antonio and Rice University have signed on to show their support. Students, staff, faculty and community members are encouraged to either join the movement or to show their support by carrying a pillow.
Women’s Resource Center Program Coordinator Malkia Hutchinson said the event will probably come together at the last minute for UH, but hopes that the message of sexual and domestic violence will come across.
“I think it’s a great way to show solidarity to her and to the students here on campus who are survivors,” Hutchinson said.
President of the Student Feminist Organization Laila Khalili said they are working on the details of the event, and if it is possible, they will do a collective carry around campus.
According to New York Magazine, Sulkowicz, along with two other classmates, said they had been victims of abuse by the same assailant. The university found the male student not guilty in all three cases, and the dean denied Sulkowicz’s appeal.
The National Institute of Justice reported that 19 percent of women experienced completed or attempted sexual assault since entering college.
Psychology junior Vineetha Mammen said she has never experienced any form of sexual assault but has seen it throughout her college years.
“When I was at night events at (the University of) St. Thomas, I definitely saw situations that could lead to sexual assault,” Mammen said. “Here at UH, I don’t really hear about sexual assault except in orientation. So if there was more awareness, I’d definitely keep it in mind more.”
Petroleum engineering freshman Vimarie Contreras said she would support the event if UH participated.
“As a girl, I can relate to that movement,” Contreras said. “Especially after what happened at (Cougar Village 2), since I have friends who live there and I hang around there a lot.”
Since April, Sulkowicz’s story has not only been featured in some of the major news publications, but she has also gained supporters on campus and across the country. In September, The White House unveiled the “It’s On Us” campaign aimed at bringing public awareness to sexual assault in colleges and universities.
“I think UH should promote and cover sexual assault as much as they advertise and promote living on campus,” Contreras said.
For more information on the event or how to participate, visit www.carryingtheweighttogether.com.