Columbia University is on the hook for an undisclosed amount after the school was forced to settle with a Title IX lawsuit filed by wronged student Paul Nungesser. Nungesser’s reputation received irreparable damage after a fellow undergraduate accused him of brutally raping her.
He was completely cleared from all charges from law enforcement officers and school administrators, but his accuser, Emma Sulkowicz, refused to let the matter drop. She dragged Nungesser into the spotlight by hauling the mattress where she was supposedly raped around campus. She called the project “Carry That Weight.”
Columbia failed to protect Nungesser’s rights. The school not only approved of Sulkowicz’s viral stunt, but granted her official class credit for it. She was graded on her ability to smear another student.
“Columbia recognizes that after the conclusion of the investigation, Paul’s remaining time at Columbia became very difficult for him and not what Columbia would want any of its students to experience,” the school said in a statement Sunday.
“Columbia will continue to review and update its policies toward ensuring that every student – accuser and accused, including those like Paul who are found not responsible – is treated respectfully and as a full member of the Columbia community.”
Nungesser was treated like a leper. Sulkowicz accused him of crimes that were so horrific that people would have been justified in hating him if they had been true. However, Sulkowicz managed to defy common sense and successfully try her case in the court of public opinion.
The Daily Beast reports: “Nungesser has his own gripes…The (university) hearing, he claims, had to focus exclusively on the facts of the alleged attack in an attempt to decide whose version of this event was more credible. Despite this, and despite a low ‘preponderance of the evidence’ standard which requires adjudicators to find in favor of the complainant if they believe it is even slightly more likely than not than the assault occurred, Nungesser was cleared.”
He was found to be innocent, yet still treated like a criminal. Millennials don’t seem to realize that honoring and trusting victims doesn’t require you to act like a jury member. Multiple people found Nungesser to be innocent. Sulkowicz’s claims were directly contradicted by her own texting and social media history.
“It’s ridiculous that he would read it as a ‘bullying strategy,’ especially given his continued public attempts to smear my reputation, when really it’s just an artistic expression of the personal trauma I’ve experienced at Columbia,” Sulkowicz told CNN when questioned about Nungesser’s lawsuit.
“If artists are not allowed to make art that reflects on our experiences, then how are we to heal?”
Nungesser used the ordeal to create a celebrity persona for herself. She’s now considered to be an “activist.” Her act of publicly ruining a man’s life is viewed by some as being brave. Despite the negative publicity she’s received, she’s benefitted hugely from her project.
“It’s explicitly designed to bully me into leaving the school—she has said so repeatedly,” Nungesser told the Daily Beast. “That is not art. If she was doing this for artistic self-expression, or exploration of her identity—all these are valid motives. Scaring another student into leaving university is not a valid motive.”
Nungesser is correct. The mattress project was worse than bad art because it actually caused harm. Sulkowicz has so far refused to recant her story.
“What really struck us as outrageously unfair,” Nungesser’s father, Andreas Probosch, said, “was the university’s non-reaction to Emma Sulkowicz’s public campaign. After investigating the allegations against Paul for seven months they found them not credible, but when Ms. Sulkowicz went to the press and claimed Columbia had swept everything under the rug, why didn’t they stand by his side and say, ‘We do have a process and we followed that process and we stand by the acquittal’? Instead, they declined to comment and just threw him under the bus.”