Emma Sulkowicz is the Columbia student who made headlines following her decision to carry a mattress everywhere she goes on campus to protest Columbia’s decision not to expel her alleged rapist. Tonight, she’ll be a guest at the State of the Union address.
Sulkowicz is leading a movement of women who filed federal Title IX complaints that helped spur examinations of campus rape policies across the country. She will accompany Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) to the president’s speech before Congress. Last year, Gillibrand was at the center of the fight to overhaul the way the Defense Department handles sexual assault cases.
She and Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) have been two of the most visible and vocal members of Congress on the subjects of military and campus sexual assault, though at times they’ve been at odds concerning solutions for the military. They’re both co-sponsors of the Campus Safety and Accountability Act, which they’re pushing the president to support. The bill would establish minimum training standards for campus employees responsible for handling rape cases and outline specific penalties for Title IX violations, plus provide more resources for campus rape victims.
The president is expected to promote his plan to offer two years of community college free-of-charge tonight.
“I hope he will also talk about working with our bipartisan coalition in Congress to make campuses safer, too,” Gillibrand told the New York Daily News. “I hope the President will seize this opportunity to shine a national spotlight on the need to flip the incentives that currently reward colleges for sweeping sexual assaults under the rug.”
h/t The Cut