On March 9th, a group of PLU students gathered in Red Square to carry a mattress. These students weren’t helping a friend move to a new house or anything like that – rather, they were protesting sexual assaults on college campuses.
The idea of carrying a mattress to protest sexual assaults and rape culture began with Emma Sulkowitz of Columbia University. She began carrying her own mattress to protest the way that Columbia was handling her own case of sexual assault and the fact that the university allowed her assaulter to remain on campus.
The Feminist Student Union was inspired by that idea and decided to help #carrythatweight and further create discussions about rape culture and sexual assault on the PLU campus. The rest of the nation will be following suit on April 13th, the National Day of Action for students to help carry that weight together. On that day, other schools across the country will be holding protests to carry mattresses, much like Emma Sulkowicz and the FSU already has.
“Sexual violence is heavily important to me, personally,” says FSU co-founder Chynna Boonlom. “As a woman, it’s something that is always lurking in my mind as a danger. It almost feels inevitable sometimes, that at some point in my life I’ll have to be impacted either personally or see someone close to me be a victim. I think that PLU students sometimes feel insulated from the reality and ugliness of sexual violence because it’s not something that we talk about.”
Boonlom feels that PLU students in general are aware of the things occuring outside of the “Lutedome”, but that advocacy can always be taken further.
“I feel that student advocacy is very important, especially at an institution like PLU where we can tend to isolate ourselves from the outside world. There have been some great things happening on the campus, like the demonstration by Black Student Union for Ferguson, and the vigil for Ayotzinapa. And while I’ve attended events like this in the past, I wanted to take my activism a step further and plan events that resonated with me, and that I felt were missing from campus.”
Boonlom hopes that all students can become thoughtfully engaged in feminist discourse around campus and take part in advocacy-oriented events. For more information about PLU’s Feminist Student Union, please visit their Facebook page here. For more information about the #carrythatweight phenomenon, please visit this website . You can get involved by writing to the Matrix, the Mooring Mast, and school administrators with your thoughts.