Activist Emma Sulkowicz Carries Mattress Across Stage At Columbia Graduation

05/19/2015 06:28 pm ET | Updated May 19, 2015

Columbia University student and anti-sexual assault activist Emma Sulkowicz walked on stage at graduation on Tuesday, holding the mattress she's been carrying in protest since September.

A video posted by the Columbia Daily Spectator shows a crowd cheering as friends help Sulkowicz carry her mattress across the stage. At the start of the academic year, Sulkowicz vowed to carry the mattress with her everywhere on campus as long as the man whom she accuses of raping her remained at Columbia. Her protest, titled "Mattress Performance" or "Carry That Weight," has served as a performance art piece for her senior thesis project.

Despite a new university policy barring graduates from carrying "large objects" at the ceremony, Columbia officials permitted Sulkowicz to carry her mattress, the Spectator reported.

However, the university has found Paul Nungesser, the fellow graduating senior whom Sulkowicz and at least two other women have accused of sexual assault, "not responsible" in Sulkowicz's accusations. Last month, Nungesser filed a lawsuit against the school, its board of trustees, President Lee C. Bollinger and Professor Jon Kessler, who approved the mattress project, for allowing Sulkowicz to publicly defame him.

Need help? In the U.S., visit the National Sexual Assault Online Hotline operated by RAINN. For more resources, visit the National Sexual Violence Resource Center's website.

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