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Emma Sulkowicz

Emma Sulkowicz63 posts

Emma Sulkowicz is an American arts student, born in New York in 1992, who gained media attention for carrying a mattress around campus to highlight what she saw as Columbia University’s lack of action to remove her alleged rapist from the campus.

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18 Nov, 2015

To participate in TEDx talk

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Sulkowicz will participate in a TEDx talk at the TriBeCa Performing Arts Center in New York on 20 Oct, with several others on the topic of “borders and belonging.” According to the program:

[The speakers] will explore the physical and socially-constructed borders between peoples, places and communities, as well as challenge how borders divide and unite us.

21 May, 2015

Josie: I Am Not a ‘Pretty Little Liar’

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In an anonymous posting to Jezebel, one of Nungesser’s alleged victims tells more about her case and defends herself:

When I filed the complaint against Paul, I didn’t know it would turn into a national event. It was over a year before Emma started carrying that weight, months before what happened at Columbia helped sparked a national dialogue about rape on college campus. I was just trying to do the right thing.

The incident happened my junior year at Columbia, when Paul followed me upstairs at a party, came into a room with me uninvited, closed the door behind us, and grabbed me. I politely said, “Hey, no, come on, let’s go back downstairs.” He didn’t listen. He held me close to him as I said no, and continued to pull me against him. I pushed him off and left the room quickly. I told a few friends and my boyfriend at the time how creepy and weird it was. I tried to find excuses for his behavior. I did a decent job of pushing it out of my mind.

The anonymous student says that when Nungesser was given an appeal, she—having already graduated—withdrew from the process because she felt frustrated with “Columbia’s incompetence’ as the appeals process began.

20 May, 2015

‘Pretty Little Liar’ poster campaign

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Posters go up around the Columbia campus accusing Sulkowicz of lying. Related posters also criticize Lena Dunham.

19 May, 2015

Carries mattress to graduation

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Ten minutes after Nungesser’s graduation, Sulkowicz walks across Columbia College Class Day stage with her mattress, despite a provision barring large items that was added to administrative guidelines sent by email to seniors the day before the event.

Graduates should not bring into the ceremonial area large objects which could interfere with the proceedings or create discomfort to others in close, crowded spaces shared by thousands of people.

Nungesser’s lawyer says that Columbia’s acceptance of Sulkowicz’s graduation stunt was “absurd” and would help her client’s case.

This goes beyond mere facilitation; they have now granted a special exception

Emma Sulkowicz, CC '15, walks across Columbia College Class Day stage with mattress

6 Feb, 2015

Fourth, male, victim revealed

Accusation3 Comments

The Jezebel article also mentions that there is a fourth Nungesser victim, Adam, who says that he was close friends with Paul during his freshman year in 2011. Adam claims that, in the midst of an emotional conversation in Nungesser’s dorm room, he was pushed onto his bed and sexually assaulted. He claims that after much self-doubt and internal struggle, he finally reported this incident, first to a student society to which both he and Nungesser belonged and then in a formal complaint to the university in the fall of 2014.

24 Nov, 2014

What I’m Thankful For

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In an article written for Time, Sulkowicz talks about what she is thankful for, including her family, boyfriend, and supporters:

My education. I learned about performance art in high school, whereas so many people will never know what it is. And, although Columbia betrayed me, I am thankful for how I’ve learned to think clearly and critically about my situation, and for the opportunity to collaborate with inspiring student activists and a wonderful art faculty and community there. Everyone who has believed in me. Everyone who has helped carry the mattress. Everyone who has carried mattresses in support around the world. Everyone who has stood up for themselves and spoken out. Everyone who has worked to end the silence. These are the people who make real change.

14 May, 2014

‘My Rapist is Still on Campus’

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In an article written for Time, Sulkowicz talks habout the alleged rape, the circumstances of the hearing, and her criticisms of Columbia’s processes:

Every day, I am afraid to leave my room. Even seeing people who look remotely like my rapist scares me. Last semester I was working in the dark room in the photography department. Though my rapist wasn’t in my class, he asked permission from his teacher to come and work in the dark room during my class time. I started crying and hyperventilating. As long as he’s on campus with me, he can continue to harass me.

I’ve lost friends because some people just don’t understand what it means to be raped. One friend asked me if I thought that my rapist would be expelled from school. I said, “I really hope so.” And he said, “Poor guy” because I think many men see rape as kinky sex that went wrong. They say girls are confusing and it’s hard to tell when you’re supposed to stop. When I was raped, I was screaming “no” and struggling against him. It was obviously not consensual, but he was turned on by my distress.

I think the school is pressured to find him not guilty because up until now Columbia could just push these things under the rug and no one would know. But that means the Columbia administration is harboring serial rapists on campus. They’re more concerned about their public image than keeping people safe.

3 May, 2013

Learns about allegations

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One day before the end of classes, Nungesser receives two new accusations. The first is from Natalie, a former girlfriend alleging he had emotionally and sexually abused her for the duration of that relationship. The second is from Josie, who claims that in April 2012, he had tried to kiss her at a party. Josie had written off the incident as drunken aggression, but after a mutual friend of hers and Nungesser’s tells her that he was participating in a hearing panel related to sexual assault, she contacts the Office of Gender-Based and Sexual Misconduct. She says she remembered thinking:

What if I wasn’t as tall and strong as I am? What if I was really drunk? Those ideas made me very scared for other women.

The Office sends Nungesser an email instructing him to vacate his room at ADP the next day “to ensure the safety of all the parties involved in this matter” and move to another dorm for the few remaining days of the school year.

3 Oct, 2012

Relationship dwindles

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On Sulkowicz’s birthday, Nungesser sends Sulkowicz a message:

oh hai happy born day you better be celebrating muchos, no? donde estas tu i mi viva – see i’m so desperate with out you, i even try to speak spanish – anywho: merry happy days

She responds the next morning:

I love you Paul. Where are you?!?!?!?!

Nungesser claims they start to drift apart; they see each other at meetings and parties, but plans to get together alone never come to anything. Nungesser says he assumed it was simply a matter of hanging out with a new crowd and, due to Sulkowicz being in a new relationship. He claims the drift is:

Very amiable; nothing was changed or different or weird or anything in her behavior.

27 Aug, 2012

Alleged rape

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According to a later police report, Sulkowicz claims that when she and Nungesser start to have consensual sex he hits her across the face, chokes her, and pushes her knees onto her chest and leans on her knees to keep them up. He then grabs her wrists and penetrates her anally. Sulkowicz tells Nungesser to stop, but he does not. She struggles with him and tries to push his arms away, but he keeps going and suddenly stops without ejaculating. Nungesser claims in his later suit that he and Sulkowicz engaged in consensual sex, including vaginal and anal sex, followed by oral intercourse.

Mar 2012

Sexual relationship

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During their freshman year, Sulkowicz and Nungesser’s friendship deepens. According to Nungesser’s later suit against Columbia, even before they have a sexual relationship, Sulkowicz brings up the topic of anal sex:

ES: Fuck me in the butt
PN: ehm, maybe not? jk I miss your face tho
ES: ahahah. you don t miss my lopsided ass?
PN: I do, just not that much

Later, Sulkowicz claims her comment is taken out of context.

Back in freshman year, I used to say the phrase ‘Fuck me in the butt’ to mean ‘OMG, that’s sooo annoying’. We all said stupid shit freshman year. Over time, I worked that kink out of my lexicon, but now and then I still say stupid things. We all say stupid things!

The relationship progresses to “friends with benefits”. In the spring of 2012 they have sex twice, the second time, according to Nungesser, includes anal sex, which Nungesser has not experienced before. Sulkowicz said she had tried before with other men and enjoyed it.

One of the main reasons their relationship does not become deeper was that Sulkowicz had previously been having sex with Nungesser’s close friend, known as John Doe. While Nungesser is back home in Germany for the summer, she messages him that she had tested positive for an STD  (Chlamydia) after having having drunken sex at a party with John Doe, and his best friend Joe.

I’ve officially had sex with all of John Doe’ best friends. . . – did lotsa drugs -jk -just got very drunk – well anyways – now i have an std-i actually hate John Doe like if a girl is about to puke – don’ tput your unprotected dick into her. . . I realy don’t want to be known as the girl who contracted an std because she was drunk you know? it is more his fault for f-cking me unconscious – i mean i was conscious but clearly not in my right mind. . . i was literally blackout. . . like i puked all over the place.

From May 2012 through August of 2012 Sulkowicz sends many Facebook messages to Nungesser, expressing her love for him.

“Paul I wuv you so much. Please stay w me foevah” – “paul I miss you so much” – “like u know when you tell people you miss them and you don’t really mean it? – i actually mean it – i miss you so much – ahhh” – “pookie – i miss you” – “I LOVE YOU – SO MUCH” – “I MISS YOU MORE THAN ANYTHING – “I love youuuu” – “and l would LOVE to have you here – omg – we could snuggle” -“PAUL I MISS YOU PAUL I MISS YOU PAUL I MISS YOU” – PAULLL” – “DUDE I MISS YOU SO MUCH” “I love you Paul “

Aug 2011

Relationship with Natalie

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Nungesser and Natalie (pseudonym) start a relationship. Natalie claims she felt emotionally and sexually exploited during the relationship, but was unable to identify it as abuse. She says she was suffering from serious depression before meeting Nungesser and had recently ended an emotionally abusive relationship. She would later wonder whether he used her vulnerability to manipulate her. She claims Nungesser often forcefully pinned her arms back against the mattress during sex; Natalie would cry during and after they slept together. Not until months after their break up did Natalie claim to recognize this as non-consensual intercourse. Later, after Sulkowicz’s alleged rape, Natalie and Sulkowicz meet at a party, and they both decide to make formal complaints.

I knew if no one punished him, he would keep on raping women… If I didn’t report it, he would keep harming people for the rest of his time on campus. He had to be stopped. That’s why I decided to report it.

Attends Columbia

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At Columbia, Sulkowicz plans to study mechanical physics but ends up studying visual arts instead. She joins Alpha Delta Phi (ADP), Columbia’s co-ed “hipster frat”. As she puts it:

Only the most hipster of the hipster kids can get in.

Sulkowicz and Nungesser, a film fanatic and rower, meet at the fraternity.

He was a nice person; a cool person who was secretly really crazy.

1992

Emma Sulkowicz born in New York

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Sulkowicz is born in New York, to Sandra Leong and Kerry Sulkowicz, psychiatrists from Manhattan. She is of Chinese, Japanese and Jewish descent.