An article in The New York Times titled “There Is Life After Campus Infamy” chronicles the controversies and aftermath of five “people” — all women, except one who uses non-binary pronouns — who achieved internet fame and then lost it.
The fifth person is none other than Emma Sulkowicz, otherwise known as “Mattress Girl,” who famously carried a cheap mattress around campus as part of an “art” project aimed at holding her alleged rapist accountable. The problem was that Columbia University found the man she accused, Paul Nungesser, not responsible (four times, as Sulkowicz recruited her friends to make suspect accusations against him as well).
Media outlets held her up as a hero for victims, and Columbia allowed her to accuse Nungesser publicly — and loudly — never standing up for the student’s rights to privacy or, since he was found not responsible, that it was possible he was the victim in this instance.
After Sulkowicz appeared on magazine covers and attended the State of the Union with Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), an investigation into her claims — something no other media outlet conducted — revealed that she was not the victim she appeared to be.
Facebook messages obtained by Cathy Young showed Sulkowicz had a flirtatious relationship with Nungesser even after he allegedly held her down, punched her, choked her, and raped her in a position that never seemed plausible to Columbia officials. She claimed to have not even realized she was raped despite the alleged violence (no one has ever come forward to say she had bruises or marks consistent with this alleged attack). Nungesser denies all of this.
Nungesser would later sue Columbia for the way he was treated on campus — how Sulkowicz’s defamation of him went unchallenged. She was allowed to continue her art project, which also consisted of drawings of his genitals. One suspects a male student never would be allowed to draw similar pictures of a female ex-lover.
Nungesser’s lawsuit struggled for years, but it was finally dropped after he and his family reached an undisclosed settlement with the university last year.
But it is not Nungesser’s undeserved infamy that is profiled by the Times. His name is mentioned in the article and his settlement is mentioned, but the focus is on Sulkowicz and her life now, which basically consists of her conducting more “art” projects that feature her barely clothed and claiming to be a victim. She also now uses non-binary pronouns.
The Times claims that after she left Columbia, “Sulkowicz struggled to carry around the new burden of an outside reputation.” No she didn’t. Every art project she comes up with gets media attention and she gets to meet celebrities. I doubt any other art major from Columbia has a guaranteed audience for their exhibits.
Meanwhile, Nungesser is exiled to his home country of Germany because the attacks on his character from Sulkowicz and her media enablers have made him believe he would never be able to succeed in America.