Macalester students participate in ‘Carry the Weight’ demonstration

Macalester students participate in ‘Carry the Weight’ demonstration

Students carried mattresses in support of sexual assault survivors and allies on Wednesday. Photo by Heather Johansen'16.
Students carried mattresses in support of sexual assault survivors and allies on Wednesday. Photo by Heather Johansen’16.

Carrying the Weight Together National Day of Action was held at Macalester on Wednesday, Oct. 29. Approximately 30 students gathered outside of the campus center at 4:30 p.m. to carry mattresses together across campus to show support for survivors of sexual assault.

Schools across the globe took part in the National Day of Action, which is inspired by the activism and art of Emma Sulkowicz. Sulkowicz is a senior at Columbia University who has vowed to carry her dorm room mattress around campus until the school expels her alleged rapist. The act is part of a performance art piece she is calling “Carry That Weight/Mattress Performance.”

The purpose of the event was for participants to express their commitment to support and lift the burden of sexual violence from the shoulders of survivors. Carrying a mattress together shows the shared support and collective commitment towards cultural and community-level change to end sexual and domestic violence.

“It was cool to hear from some survivors that they felt supported by the event, which was the ultimate goal of the National Day of Action,” Jake Greenberg ’17, a co-chair of Mac Reimagines Masculinity (Mr. M), said.

The idea to have the event at Macalester was presented to Mr. M by Brendan Hebert ’18 on Monday Oct. 20, only nine days before the actual event took place. Mr. M decided intentionally not to lead the event. Rather, they wanted it to be run democratically so that all voices could be heard.

After that decision, they reached out to several student orgs including Queer Union, FIA*STARSA and MPIRG to create a coalition of students interested in the event. A Facebook page was created to publicize the event and make sure all students, survivors and allies knew they were welcome to attend.

“I liked [the event] because I saw people who support survivors of sexual assault,” Heidi Affi ’17 said. “Plus it was comforting to see people of various genders present.”
Some students didn’t feel there was sufficient publicity and notice for the event.

“I felt like it was put together last minute, and I don’t know if that’s really anyone’s fault,” Kelsey Fox ’17 said. “But if I had known about it earlier I could’ve taken off work.”

Despite confusion, students still showed up and carried four mattresses in a loop from outside of the Campus Center, to Old Main and Carnegie, and back to the Campus Center.

However, due to the short turnaround time for the event, there was a struggle to balance opinions of survivors who didn’t want the event to happen with survivors in support of the event.

“The event went through a lot of changes and we constantly tried to adjust it to meet the desires and concerns survivors brought to the table,” Jane Hornsby ’17, co-chair of Mr. M, said. “So in the end there was some confusion but we tried to be as inclusive as possible.

Editors’ note: Jake Greenberg and Jane Hornsby are editors of The Mac Weekly and were not involved in the production of this story.

October 31, 2014

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