Carry That Weight Day Of Action At Columbia

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Earlier today, hundreds of people took to Low Steps with mattresses and banners in support of survivors of sexual assault and in protest of the Columbia administration’s mishandling of the issue. The Day of Action and rally were part of the Carry That Weight campaign, a national movement started by activists at Columbia to support survivors and call for change. Over 130 universities across the nation also took part in the Day of Action.

If you somehow didn’t notice the groups of students carrying mattresses, here’s what you missed:

UPDATE, October 31st: After the demonstration on Low steps, participants in the Day of Action piled their mattresses outside Prezbo’s door. Last night, we received another statement from Carry That Weight demonstrators, which began:

After the Carry That Weight rally in front of Low, students piled the 28 mattresses–the mattresses representing the 28 Title IX Complainants–on PrezBo’s doorstep. Within an hour and a half, Columbia’s Administration threw the mattresses in the dumpster along with the list of demands posted to his door.

The full statement, which reiterates the list of demands, is available after the jump.

Statement from Carry That Weight demonstrators:

PrezBo, since you didn’t get a good look at the demands we conveniently posted to your door and wrote on the mattresses we placed at your doorstep, we will remind you of them:

1. Prioritize the voices of survivors and activists in the development and implementation of Gender-Based Misconduct Policy.

2. Require comprehensive and program-appropriate prevention education for all students at least once per semester that will include but not be limited to in-person workshops.

3. Remove deans from decision making roles in the disciplinary process.

4. Treat cases of sexual and domestic violence with appropriately severe sanctions.

5. Guarantee that students who need to withdraw or take a temporary leave of absence because of their experiences of sexual or domestic violence have their financial aid packages protected and are fully reimbursed for any lost tuition.

6. Institute a mandatory and comprehensive review of the Gender-Based Misconduct Policy every two years which directly involves the concerns of students and survivors on campus, beginning this year.

7. Create an online evaluation form for every student who makes a formal report, and every complainant and respondent in a gender-based misconduct case to fill out after the completion of their case with the Office of Gender-Based Misconduct, the results of which must be sent to PACSA.

8. Ensure that all formal reports of violence or gender-based misconduct made against the same respondent are admissible evidence, including in concurrent cases or cases with a non-responsible finding.

9. Implement a formal accommodations system, including a written explanation regarding the approval or denial of any request.

10. The investigation and adjudication process of the sexual assault report made by Emma Sulkowicz against Jean-Paul Nungesser was grossly mishandled. An alleged serial perpetrator remains on our campus and presents an ongoing threat to the community. Given these facts, we demand you re-open this case and evaluate it under the newly revised policy.

From the Carry That Weight Day of Action press release:

The aim of the national #carrythatweight campaign is to support survivors of sexual and domestic violence and to empower students at colleges around the country who are working to improve their school’s sexual and domestic violence response policies. As a platform for further discussion and action, the demonstration serves as an opportunity for student groups to develop concrete steps to confront rape culture on their campuses and to support survivors in their communities.

To achieve this goal, the #carrythatweight campaign has built connections with committed on-campus and nonprofit groups. In addition to partnerships with students at over 130 schools, more than 15 organizations have signed on as formal partners with the campaign. Through these partnerships, groups pledge to promote the event and hold universities accountable to an equitable adjudication process that is sensitive to survivors.

In response to the Day of Action, the Columbia administration released a statement on sexual assault policies. An excerpt from the statement is included below:

Columbia embraces its responsibility to be a leader in preventing sexual assault and other gender-based misconduct anywhere it may occur, with a special duty to protect the safety and well-being of our own students. Student activism here and around the nation has played in important role in encouraging these efforts. As a university we have made substantial new investments to further strengthen our personnel, physical resources, and policies dedicated to preventing and responding to gender based-misconduct.

We understand that reports about these cases in the media can be deeply distressing, and our hearts go out to any students who feel they have been mistreated. But galvanizing public attention on an important societal problem is very different from a public conversation about individual students and cases, which colleges and universities do not discuss—not only because of federal student privacy law, but also because it is essential that all students have confidence that they can report misconduct or access the counseling resources they need without concern that the university will ever talk about them in public.

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  1. F  

    Yet another crappy statement by the administration that fails to address their inability to act.

  2. dddddd  

    Oh thats what that was? I thought kids were just sleeping in class after midterms

  3. sheep

    And all these people are following the lead of the person who has not provided one single proof that she was raped (reported years later - dismissed both by Columbia and the Police!)and who is refusing to bring her case to court where she would have to face some hard questions. The question is WHY? How quick we are to throw Due Process out of the window when we're sufficiently emotional about this issue.

    • the question is  

      regardless of what you think about Emma's case in particular, do you REALLY believe the Administration is doing everything in their power to deal with sexual violence? do you REALLY doubt the countless stories coming from other victims about how almost all the staff and deans at Columbia are completely ill-trained to deal with traumatized people at such a sensitive time, asking them invasive questions and completely disrespecting their wishes?

      even if you think she's lying about her particular case--which I don't get how you could, but let's say for argument's sake--are you REALLY going to side with the Columbia bureaucracy on this one, and not vulnerable, shaken students who are TELLING US that the system is broken?

      • g#2  

        I think the administration shouldn't be forced to do anything. They are not a law enforcement agency, they do not write laws, they are a for profit school. Leave justice to the justice system and let schools do what they do, educate people. A School is not a nation and should not be held accountable like one.

        • actually  

          they run a non-profit, and an educational institution receiving federal funds, which is why they are subject to Title IX, which is exactly why they ARE forced to "do anything" about issues which disproportionately affect female students. if you don't like that, take it up with Congress 42 years ago.

          • Serpent  

            He never said that they are not accountable by law; he said they SHOULD NOT be accountable. There's a difference. Your argument is equivalent to telling someone who said that slavery shouldn't exist that it exists under law.

      • sheep

        No, I don't side with Columbia bureaucracy because they've failed victims of false accusations as well. They force people off the campus the moment complaint is filed just to make the "victim" more comfortable, and before anything is proven. Clearly, it's guilty before proven guilty at Columbia, and in the guy's case (whom Emma accused)- Guilty Even when proven INNOCENT. If you say - "he's guilty because Emma says so" - I have to ask "How do you know that?" Because you WANT to trust her, of course. Because you cannot stomach the idea that a man can actually be innocent.

        No, I don't side with Columbia bureaucracy - their sexual assault policy defines any unwanted touching, however slight as sexual assault. This is turning every guy at Columbia into a possible "predator". The hysteria and the way the idea of what constitutes sexual assault is skewed is truly disgusting.

        So, no, I don't like how Columbia is dealing with this, but I don't think Columbia should be dealing with this anyway. This is an educational institution totally incapable of serving either victims of sexual violence or falsely accused students.

  4. wait plz

    can someone please explain to me why SJP thought it was appropriate to interrupt the multiple speakers that were victims of sexual assault to get up there and say that their suffering is somehow understood by the poor suffering souls in Gaza and the West Bank oppressed by the evil "apartheid" occupation?

    apart from how terrible it is to compare the pain of a victim of sexual assault to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, you'd think they would at least recognize that this day is not about them and their issue, but hey, they had to do something on 9/11 as well.

    and then to stand with their mattress and chant free free palestine - as if the student body or the world for that matter would want to hear their blatant disrespect for all survivors on this day.

    • Bex

      I totally agree- I'm glad I'm not alone. it was so inappropriate to have a man so explicitly describe the abuse of a woman with so many survivors present to be triggered.

    • Sjp member

      I actually agree with some of this. The statement wasn't adequately thought through. We were under the impression that the rally would be more rooted in the community and why we cared about sexual assault but it turned out to be all for the cameras. Oh well. That being said,

      1) ISO started the chanting, without asking us
      2) were still very proud we were able to help nrt bring attention to this issue.

      • curious

        Then why did SJP attempt to hijack the event for their own agenda against the one country in the region that actually has rights for women?
        Just like what SJP did on 9/11, they should learn to keep their agenda out of it and keep it for your own events. It's simple.

        • Simple way to prove it.  

          I assume the reverse works, then?

          If a group espousing a cause besides Gaza shows up at a SJP event and interrupts to shout about, say, sexual assault or global warming, then SJP should be okeydoke fine with the community-awareness togetherness and all that.

  5. troll in the dungeon

    well i know someone who is gonna get a career out of this...

  6. Anonymous

    Emma Is a liar, plain and simple.

    As someone who's been through the process well before their cases even happened, I that it is far more likely an innocent person will be found responsible than a guilty person found not responsible.

    Let's take a look at her background, she came into Columbia wanting to be an activist and hung out with fringe groups looking for causes to pad her resume. In 2009, the horribly thought out dear colleague letter came out... Bingo, now she has a "cause." She manufactures a rape out of a sexual encounter she regretted and recruited others to strengthen her case, only problem- the respondent could PROVE his innocence. Now, she starts getting on a soap box and protesting the decision as "unfair." She begins to gain media attention for her work as an activist - her original goal. Columbia makes extra accommodations for her- in classes (extended deadlines, boosted grades), housing (first overall pick).

    As bigger publications begin interviewing her, she becomes emboldened and decides to press charges in big girl court, but as an "experiment," she secretly records the whole reporting/ interview process. She then twists and splices the recording to make herself appear victimized by the police when in reality, they were doing victim intake the same way they do it in all cases. Conveniently, she drops her case before it can go anywhere. Speculation - he clearly had evidence to the contrary. Also, it's a bad look for your reputation as an activist when a real court finds the accused not guilty. (In retrospect, at the initial interview, there was a good chance the detectives knew she had anterior motives).

    Anyway, no harm no foul after the police stunt, because desperate, pandering politicians continue to have Emma open for them. Bad journalist continue to do exposes on her. And, in the activist world, she's a heroine.

    Emma had the means by virtue of her gender.
    She had motive provided by her activist aspirations.
    Lastly, she manufactured opportunity upon seeing the dear colleague letter.

    A hell of a lot more "proof" here then in her argument, which barelyqualifies as rumor and innuendo.

    If the people here want to throw due process out the door because Emma says they should, then I've lost all faith in the Columbia community.

  7. Anonymous

    Who is going to clean and sleep on all those mattresses? Constantly dragging them around is ruining them as well as nicking all the doors, hallways and elevators. I hope they are going to pay for new mattresses and all the property damage they have caused on campus.

  8. Anonymous

    Will the liberal thought police arrest me if I criticize ES here as well?

  9. troll in the dungeon  

    "carry that weight" really? talk about taking without asking...

  10. Sheep

    In their eagerness to protect women in their educational environments, the Department of Education has been spurred on by a "rape hysteria" based on flawed statistics, to impose procedural rules in college disciplinary proceedings which effectively strip the accused of any due process rights he may have and weight the scale heavily toward findings of guilt. In most cases these accused students would fare far better in the criminal courts, which is why extreme feminist activists have lobbied to create this alternative adjudicatory process, which denies the accused a presumption of innocence by effectively shifting the burden of proof, requiring him to prove he had the consent of the alleged victim. Many of these cases result,in a guilty finding and expulsion, preventing the accused from transferring to another college and obtaining a degree. Even though what they're doing is CRIMINAL those who falsely accuse are never held responsible, the fact that has made many believe they can get away with their false accusations.

  11. Parmenides  

    While I support this form of protest in general, that picture of the discarded mattresses was pretty revolting. Coming from a country where most people don't even have access to mattresses, puts this waste in an even more egregious light.

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