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Columbia Is Charging Anti-Rape Protest Students $471 In Clean-Up Fees


The mattresses carried by Columbia University senior Emma Sulkowicz and her supporters just got a little more expensive.

A group called No Red Tape Columbia has been fined $471 by the university for the removal of 28 mattresses left in front of university President Lee Bollinger’s home after an October 29 rally.

BuzzFeed reports that women’s rights group UltraViolet will be covering the fee.

On October 29, Columbia student group Student Worker Solidarity (SWS) sponsored a National Day of Action for Carry That Weight. Students came together to stand for women’s rights and protest the alleged mishandling of rape on college campuses.

After Sulkowicz decided to carry the mattress upon which she was allegedly raped as her senior thesis art project, women around the country joined in.

Groups like Carrying the Weight Together and No Red Tape Columbia sprung up in support of Sulkowicz’s cause, called Carry That Weight.

Sulkowicz unwittingly inspired a movement.

Students on 130 campuses across the globe organized their own shadow rallies in support.

At the end of the day, students hauled 28 rain-soaked mattresses to the front of Bollinger’s residence.

The Columbia Spectator reports the group chanted, “PresBo, PresBo, you can’t hide… Be the leader on our side.”

SWS was warned ahead of time by a student life advisor that the rally could cost the group up to $1,500 in cleaning and fines, a number based on previous rallies.

The cost reportedly corresponds to mattress removal and clean up.

Columbia University released a statement, saying, “Columbia encourages free speech and open discussion among students and faculty; and would never fine people for expressing their views on any issue.”

“It is standard practice for event sponsoring groups to be assessed additional clean-up costs, and our available records show a total of $471 for waste management to remove materials left on a public sidewalk.”

SWS organizer Michela Weihl told the Huffington Post she was disappointed in the way Columbia handled the rally.

She said, “The symbolism of them literally dumping the mattresses in the trash within an hour… It’s so indicative of how they handle sexual assault on this campus.

“They literally throw out rape cases without a second thought.”

UltraViolet calls itself a growing movement of both men and women “mobilized to fight sexism and expand women’s rights” across the US. It’s currently sponsoring a campaign to end campus rape.

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