Two weeks ago, a list of “rapists on campus” began appearing around Columbia University via flyers and bathroom wall graffiti. On Friday, the Columbia Spectator published one of those names after junior Emma Sulkowicz filed a report on Wednesday with the NYPD detailing her alleged August 2012 sexual assault. In an accompanying note, the paper cited three reasons for its decision: the police report, the fact that three students claim to have filed separate complaints against the man (he was found “not responsible” each time), and his appearance on the lists posted around campus. (Another of the names on the list worked at the Bwog, a different publication that has also covered the situation; he has since resigned.)
“One of my main goals was to have his name somewhere so if he committed another crime in New York City it would show up on his record so the next person he might assault would have a better time than I did in prosecuting him,” Sulkowicz told Daily Intelligencer. “I felt like I had a civil and public duty to report as well.”
Sulkowicz is a prominent critic of the University’s sexual assault policies. She is listed on the federal complaint against Columbia filed by students in April, and appeared with New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand at a press conference about the issue. She also told the story of her own assault and what she felt was Columbia’s clumsy response to it in a New York Times report on the incidents.
“After the New York Times article I had received so much criticism from people online that said, ‘Girls are dumb, this is exactly why girls should go to the police the minute they’re assaulted.’ I wanted to see if they were correct,” Sulkowicz says. She characterizes her experience with the NYPD as “awful,” and says she is in the process of filing a formal complaint with the city. “The officer basically treated me as if I was the criminal,” she said. “After you’ve been physically violated the last thing you want is to have a policeman who is high on his own power telling you that everything you’ve just experienced is invalid.” Sulkowicz says the assistant district attorney has contacted her about beginning an investigation, and she has been told police are currently looking for her alleged rapist, who she says is out of the country.
Sulkowicz says she was impressed by how Brown students rallied behind Lena Sclove, a Brown student who publicized the name of a male student who was given a yearlong suspension for “sexual misconduct” against her, when they felt the punishment was not severe enough. The Brown Daily Herald published his name and he subsequently withdrew from the university altogether. “I was recently friended on Facebook by Lena Sclove, who has been such an inspiration for me, and to see the way that she was able to create a safe space for herself definitely made me realize that after I had made the police report I had that as an option to me as well.” Sulkowicz says.