Written By: Tyra Mills
Armed with signs, slogans and a twin-sized mattress, a group of VSU students walked up and down the Pedestrian Mall in support of the “Carry That Weight” movement.
The students, made up of the sociology club and Women’s and Gender Studies club, were participating in the National Day of Action to fight campus sexual assaults.
This movement was created in honor of the Columbia University student, Emma Sulkowicz, who is carrying a dorm mattress around until her rapist is expelled or she graduates in protest of his lack of punishment for his assault on her. Sulkowicz began her campaign in August and has been covered by numerous media outlets.
There have been several protests this year at VSU. What makes this protest different is that while chanting out to their pedestrian peers, these women were all the while carrying a mattress.
Ashley Praine, a member of the sociology club, said that women need to stand up for themselves.
“We need to stop allowing men to victimize us,” Praine said. “We are women, we’re powerful beyond measure, and we need to stand up for ourselves.”
The women carried posters that stated “Yes Means Yes” and “End Rape on Campus.” As shocking as their protest was, members felt it was the perfect way to bring more awareness to on campus sexual assaults.
Columbia University also participated in the movement. With the help of hundreds of students, they carried 28 mattresses across campus to represent the 28 students who have filed sexual complaints so far at the school. According to organizers, similar events were held throughout the day at more than 100 universities across the country.
Zoe Ridolfi-Starr, a student and organizer at Columbia University and a survivor of sexual assault, said she hopes the movement continues.
“We refuse to be silent, and we refuse to let fellow survivors carry the weight of sexual assault alone. Together, we can end campus rape and dating violence,” Ridolfi-Starr said.