Columbia student Emma Sulkowicz is making major waves across the US while literally bearing the burden of her rape for the college campus and nation to see. The rising senior is carrying her mattress from class to class until the man she says sexually assaulted her and two other Columbia students leaves the college campus — whether by expulsion from the school or of his own accord.
The man accused was found not responsible (in all three cases) when brought before the Columbia disciplinary panel, leaving Sulkowicz, the other two victims, and thousands of victims who have faced the same red tape and frustrations regarding sexual assault cases reeling yet again from the lack of response and general mismanaging of situations just like this nationwide.
At a time when even public figures like CeeLo Green still feel entirely comfortable with (and entitled to) spouting truly terrible comments about rape, it's not hard to see why the call for action is getting increasingly louder.
Just last week, the California State Assembly passed the "Yes Means Yes" bill, which, if approved by the governor, will require college campuses to follow the standard of "affirmative consent" when dealing with sexual assault cases. The bill defines affirmative consent as "affirmative, conscious, and voluntary agreement to engage in sexual activity," which turns the idea of "no means no" on its head. Instead of silence or lack of protest being an acceptable form of consent, it places responsibility on both people involved to define and actively state the existence of consent.
The legislation aims to eliminate ambiguity and tasks colleges with providing education on sexual consent and sexual assault to all students. California's "Yes Means Yes" bill — which awaits a signature from Governor Jerry Brown — has helped facilitate more open discussions about sexual assault and will hopefully encourage other states and colleges to join in.
See what Sulkowicz has to say below: