Around the industry: Student carries mattress at graduation to protest sexual assault

Bite-sized college and higher education industry news

  • California: The entire first-year class of one MFA program at the University of Southern California (USC) signed an open letter saying they plan to leave the program. In the letter, the students say the program's curriculum, faculty members, and financial aid packages have all changed dramatically over the last year—for the worse. USC officials released a statement Friday saying the curriculum changes were not as dramatic as the students claimed and the financial aid packages were generous—covering at least 90% of tuition (Jaschik, Inside Higher Ed, 5/18).
  • New York: Emma Sulkowicz—who carried her mattress around Columbia University's campus this academic year to protest sexual assault—also carried the mattress across the stage at graduation Tuesday. The demonstration is a performance art project and part of her senior thesis, "Carry That Weight." Sulkowicz says she was raped on the first day of her sophomore year and vowed to carry the mattress until her alleged rapist left—or was expelled—from the school (Fieldstadt, NBC News, 5/19).
  • North Carolina: Juliet Smith missed her Guilford College graduation ceremony Saturday—because she was having a baby instead. Her son, Milo, arrived weeks ahead of his June 9 due date. Instead, professors brought a mini version of the ceremony to Smith: one played "Pomp and Circumstance" on his tuba while another pushed Smith's wheelchair. The commencement speaker even delivered a 20-second version of his speech (Guilford College release, 5/16).

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