Sunday, May 24, 2015

Emma Sulkowicz, BA, Mattress Studies

Despite initial reports that Columbia University would deny Emma "Mattress Girl" Sulkowicz use of her iconic art project at commencement ceremonies, they let her anyway (or at least made no effort to stop her). This appears to have been a terrible move for Columbia, who is under lawsuit by Paul Nungesser, and this strengthens his hand. Meanwhile, president Lee Bollinger snubbed her during the ceremonies.

Cathy Young in Reason documents the collapse of yet another set of charges against Nungesser, this of a male student. She characterizes the charges thusly:
If Nungesser is innocent, it is entirely plausible that Sulkowicz and Natalie, who met at a party and discussed their history with him shortly before they filed charges, may have genuinely goaded each other into the conviction that he abused them (or, as Sulkowicz put it to Jezebel, "Together, we [came] to a better understanding of our shared trauma"). It is also entirely plausible that Josie and Adam either reinterpreted their past encounters with him, or even fabricated stories in the sincere belief that they were helping eject a rapist from the house and supporting his victims. The problem is not female "wickedness"; it is a campus culture that fetishizes trauma and turns "survivorship" into a cult.
Nungesser's family issued a statement in the wake of this circus:
At graduation, Columbia University again broke its own rules and afforded Emma Sulkowicz a special exception. It was the second devastating experience in just a few days: Last week, Columbia exhibited Emma Sulkowicz's highly disturbing and extremely graphic drawings of our son publicly on campus.

We have come to realize that at Columbia, not all are equal before its policy. What is the point of internal investigations if their outcome is not accepted? Instead those with better connections and more influence promoted a false narrative. While they failed at their goal of bullying our son into leaving this university, they have turned his life into a nightmare.

Responsible for this nightmare is not just the woman, who received an academic degree for the attempt to shame Paul away from campus, but even more at fault is the University that conferred this degree. A university that bows to a public witch-hunt no longer deserves to be called a place of enlightenment, of intellectual and academic freedom. By failing to intervene in this injustice, Columbia ceases to be a place where critical thinking, courage and democratic practice are taught, learned and lived.
Here's hoping they receive something like satisfaction in the courts.

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