Columbia University student Emma Sulkowicz says that she was raped by a fellow student in her dorm room on the first day of her sophomore year. In an article for TIME, Sulkowicz writes that two other female students were assaulted by the same guy, but all three federal Title IX complaints were dismissed, and the student was allowed to stay at the school.

Now a senior, Sulkowicz has decided to stage a performance art piece for her thesis that addresses the assault and forces others to acknowledge it. She will carry around a twin mattress until she and her rapist no longer attend the same school. The performance is powerful not only for Sulkowicz, but for 5% of women who experience rape or attempted rape at colleges around the country every year.

Cee Lo recently caused a large controversy on Twitter with his definition of rape, but the issue is so much bigger than one person's horribly wrong ideas. Sulkowicz's performance will hopefully help more people have discussions about preventing rape on college campuses and beyond.

UPDATE NOVEMBER 13, 2014: Sulkowicz's protest has gained national attention since it began in September, and other students have joined in the demonstration. According to Jezebel, Sulkowicz and 28 others left their mattresses outside of Columbia University President Lee Bollinger's home on Oct. 29. In response, Buzzfeed reports that the school charged the students $471 as a mattress removal fee. 

"Student sponsors understood in advance that such costs could be incurred," wrote Columbia in a statement to Buzzfeed. "As our earlier statement notes, the University chose to underwrite the costs of the campus cleanup, but only assess the costs for additional cleanup for materials left on a public sidewalk, which total $471. These are entirely typical matters in apportioning direct costs for facilitating student events and, given our longstanding commitment to robust free speech, there is never such thing as a fine for any group because of its views."

A feminist group called Ultraviolet has stepped up to cover the charges so that the students won't have to.

[via New York Magazine]