Leah Larson

A group of students carry a mattress below the text "PLU Helps Carry That Weight"

The PLU Community is Strong

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.

Leah Johnson

From the Archives: Hating on H8

Originally published in the Mooring Mast, Nov. 14th, 2014 by Leah Larson

FCKH8 is a company that is notorious for putting together quick and funny videos about various activist causes and selling shirts to raise money for those causes.

Unfortunately, that’s also a really easy way for a company to make a lot of money.
FCKH8 is a for-profit company. The money they make off their T-shirts or from the advertising on their YouTube videos goes directly toward various employees’ paychecks.
Ultimately, FCKH8 has successfully raised almost $6000 for various charities with their anti-racism gear. Those $6000 will go on to do great things, but FCKH8 still falls short in its advocacy.

Continue reading

Leah Johnson

Words Matter: Facebook Stalking and Everyday Conversation

Trigger warning for discussion of stalking and sexual assault

Written by Leah Larson, Matrix Intern, February 15th 2015

Last year, I went through a pretty bad break-up. I found out that the guy I had been on-off with for several months had cheated on me. Even worse, he had cheated on me with an underage girl. For months after this event, hearing his name caused me to become emotional and frequently excuse myself from rooms to collect myself.

That sort of reaction is common whenever anybody goes through a particularly emotional or traumatic experience. A bad break up. A death. Loss of a friend.

This is even more true when it comes to traumatic events like sexual assault or stalking.

Continue reading