Today, hundreds of students, alumni, and supporters congregated on Columbia University's Low Steps to speak out against campus sexual assault.
The speak out was partially due to the powerful performance art piece created by Columbia University senior, Emma Sulkowicz. Emma has pledged to carry her mattress everywhere she goes (a symbol of the college dorm room she was assaulted in) until her alleged rapist is expelled from the school.
Noodle had the pleasure of getting to hear more about Emma's bravery and experiences in this interview:
Columbia's activist group "No Red Tape" organized the three-hour speak out, in support of survivors on Columbia/Barnard's campus. Some students even brought their own mattresses to stand in solidarity with Emma. Survivors and allies shared stories about how sexual assault had affected them, and demanded that the university's administration change the policies that are in place.
Here are some images of the moving speak out:
Students stand with placards and mattresses to demonstrate their support for sexual assault survivors on the Columbia/Barnard campus.
The mattresses read "Stand With Survivors" and "Carry That Weight," a reference to Emma's piece, which is entitled "Mattress Performance: Carry That Weight."
Emma Sulkowicz stands by a group of activists and supporters on Low Steps.
Dozens of students brought their own mattresses as a representation of support for the survivors.
Members from the Union Theological Seminary, a school affiliated with Columbia University, led the crowd in a song: "Cutting through the red tape, we shall not be moved, like a tree planted by the waters, we shall not be moved."
Alma Mater, a symbol of the school, had red tape pasted over her mouth. Other students at the protest also wore red tape over their mouths.
The event organizers offered the opportunity for survivors to anonymously submit stories they felt uncomfortable sharing in front of the audience, so activists could read the stories for them.
A large crowd of supporters and spectators gathered throughout the afternoon.
Zoe Ridolfi Starr, a Know Your IX team member and organizer for No Red Tape, stands next to a survivor who shared her story.
Students take their mattresses back to their rooms with them as the speak out ends.