Columbia University senior and anti-rape activist Emma Sulkowicz is set to attend the State of the Union address on Tuesday, where her presence will be meant to raise awareness about the prevalence of campus sexual assault. Sulkowicz, who drew national attention last year for vowing to carry a mattress around campus in protest of Columbia's failure to expel her alleged rapist, was invited by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, reports the New York Daily News. (She will not be bringing her mattress to the Capitol.)
"I hope the President will seize this opportunity to shine a national spotlight on the need to flip the incentives that currently reward colleges for sweeping sexual assaults under the rug," Gillibrand said.
The senator reportedly spoke with the president last week about measures to end campus sexual assault, an issue she has championed during her time in Congress. Along with pushing the Campus Accountability and Safety Act, Gillibrand has also stood behind measures to curb sexual assault in the military -- another institution notable for violence against women, which the president would do well to address during the State of the Union. Hopefully Sulkowicz's presence will highlight more than the issue of rape on college campuses, but the issue of rape anywhere.