Columbia University’s Mattress Girl and Her Exonerated Attacker

A mattress is heavy, Photo: Luisa Leal/123RF

In 2015, Emma Sulkowicz, a young woman who in 2013 said she was raped by a fellow student, Paul Nungesser, who was then exonerated, completed her thesis and graduated Columbia University. The thesis consisted of her going about her day at school for her entire senior year carrying a mattress. It was “a work of art.” Yes it was.

Last week, the young man accused of raping her—he was cleared by university and NYPD investigations—settled with Columbia University for an unknown sum after suing the university for gender discrimination. He said the university refused to protect him from harassment and a hostile learning environment, Jezebel reported. He was vilified by other students, he said. His name was written on a list of sexual assault violators on campus restroom walls, and he was held up to ridicule and scorn.

After his name was cleared, and while the woman known as Mattress Girl continued her thesis, he was allowed to continue at school, where he graduated “as a distinguished John Jay Scholar,” a high honor given to students who show “remarkable personal achievements, dynamism, intellectual curiosity and original thinking.”

He is now enrolled in film school.

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