She carried her mattress to protest her rape. A nation joins her — for the second time.

You might have heard of Emma Sulkowicz.

Back in October 2014, Emma's performance art project inspired college students across the nation to carry mattresses for a day to show their support for survivors of campus sexual assault.

It was called Carry That Weight Day of Action.


April 13, 2015, was a second day of action.

Image via Facebook

Why are these college kids protesting so much? Wasn't that first protest enough?

Actually, no. Far from it. There are so many reasons we need to keep talking about rape and sexual assault on campus. But one of them is particularly shocking:

106 colleges and universities have fallen short of helping survivors.

As of April 6, 2015, 106 colleges and universities were under investigation for violating Title IX because of how they handled cases of sexual assault on their campuses.

Unfortunately, far too many colleges care more about P.R. than survivors.

In early 2015, theaters began showing the documentary "The Hunting Ground." The film highlights the accounts of survivors whose colleges told them to stay quiet about their assaults or denied them justice. We may never know how many victims have experience this same injustice, but their stories are far too common.

So rather than wondering why college students have to protest so darn much or assuming they're youngsters making a big deal out of nothing, let's wonder why survivors still have to run into their perpetrators as they walk from class to class.

And let's show some support for the young people who are trying to make change happen on their college campuses.

We don't have to be college students to help them carry that weight — literally and figuratively.

Simon & Garfunkel's song "Bridge Over Troubled Water" has been covered by more than 50 different musical artists, from Aretha Franklin to Elvis Presley to Willie Nelson. It's a timeless classic that taps into the universal struggle of feeling down and the comfort of having someone to lift us up. It's beloved for its soothing melody and cathartic lyrics, and after a year of pandemic challenges, it's perhaps more poignant now than ever.

A few years a go, American singer-songwriter Yebba Smith shared a solo a capella version of a part of "Bridge Over Troubled Water," in which she just casually sits and sings it on a bed. It's an impressive rendition on its own, highlighting Yebba's soulful, effortless voice.

But British singer Jacob Collier recently added his own layered harmony tracks to it, taking the performance to a whole other level.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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