How Columbia University President Reacted When Student Brought Rape Protest Mattress to Graduation

The Columbia University student who attracted nationwide attention for carrying a mattress around campus in protest of how the college handled her sexual assault complaint continued her demonstration Tuesday as she graduated — and the university’s president was seemingly not pleased.

Emma Sulkowicz, who accused her former sexual partner Paul Nungesser of rape, was told by university officials moments before she crossed the stage that she was not allowed to carry the mattress as she received her diploma, The New York Times reported.

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That didn’t stop Sulkowicz.

With the aid of several friends, Sulkowicz walked on stage with the infamous mattress to the dismay of Columbia President Lee C. Bollinger.

According to the Times, Bollinger turned away as she walked by him and refused to shake her hand as he had done with each other graduate.

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Many in the audience, however, applauded.

Sulkowicz’s accusation against Nungesser received attention when it was noted that a campus court had cleared him of any wrongdoing. As noted by the New York Post, because Sulkowicz didn’t file criminal charges, the campus court’s ruling was the closest formal vindication Nunsgesser will be able to obtain.

Sulkowicz had vowed to carry the mattress around the Ivy League school until Nungesser was removed. The act not only served as a protest, but as the visual arts student’s senior thesis.

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