Diarrana Howard ’17 and the Social Justice Residential College brought the Pillows for Emma movement to the University on Sept. 17 by creating a Facebook group campaign. Emma Sulkowicz is a senior at Columbia University who was raped by a fellow student two years ago. Emma symbolizes the mishandling of her sexual assault case by carrying her mattress around campus as long as her rapist still attends the university. The Pillows for Emma program mimics her actions: students carry pillows around campus in an effort to spread awareness of the unjust incident.
Recognizing the popularity of the amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS Ice Bucket Challenge movement, Amanda Battle ’18 and Megan Ganning ’18 thought to publicize the Pillows For Emma movement through social media. Students are encouraged to post a picture of themselves holding a pillow and write a caption that both tells Emma’s story and lists the peers they nominate to participate in the challenge next.
“Sexual assault is prevalent to everyone. Everyone knows someone who has been sexually assaulted or has even just felt the repercussions of it as a community. It’s a problem that’s important to all of us, so we’re really hoping it’ll greatly impact our community and raise awareness of the topic,” Battle said.
Battle continued to say that although this is a program that focuses on a female seeking justice, it is meant to raise awareness for all victims of sexual assault.
“We’re not attacking men; we’re just bringing awareness to the victims. Sexual assault can happen to anyone, regardless of gender,” Battle said.
The length of time in which the students carry around the pillow is insignificant. For Battle, what’s important is for students to take notice of the cause, which is made easier by integrating social media into the movement.
“Even if you just take that one picture and only carry the pillow around one day, that’s so much better than nothing,” Battle said.
Battle is confident that the movement will continue to gain momentum on campus and will make a positive impact on students.
“I hope that the Pillows for Emma movement not only spreads support for Emma, but spreads support for those who haven’t come out and talked about their sexual assault. Bucknell is a community that cares, and there are people who are standing up for all kinds of social justice issues we face on a college campus,” Battle said.