This snopes article responds to the claims in the above post. (I will be voting for Ron Paul!!!)
Origins: Those who have followed the background of President Barack Obama are familiar with the arc of his post-secondary education: After
finishing high school in 1979, he attended Occidental College in Los Angeles for two years, transferred to Columbia College in New York City (one of
Columbia University's four undergraduate schools) for another two years, graduated from Columbia with a bachelor's degree in political science, and
then (after a five-year interlude during which he traveled and worked as a community organizer) entered Harvard Law School in 1988 and graduated with
a law degree in 1991.
Even those who have studied Barack Obama's background in detail don't generally know much about his time at Columbia University, however, as he hasn't
revealed much about that period of his life in his public writings and statements, nor has he made his transcripts or other school records from
for public examination. Obama's reticence about revealing much from this period of his life has given license to a number of related rumors, the most
outlandish of them being the claim outlined above that he fabricated this element of his background and didn't really attend Columbia at all.
Most expressions of this rumor feed off the statement (referenced in a Wall Street Journal editorial) that "Fox News contacted some 400 of [Obama's]
classmates and found no one who remembered him" and a statement made by Wayne Allyn Root (the Libertarian Party's 2008 vice presidential nominee who
also attended Columbia at the same time as Barack Obama) that "I don't know a single person at Columbia that knows him, and they all know me. I don't
have a classmate who ever knew Barack Obama at Columbia."
As literally true as these statements might be, they don't prove that Barack Obama never attended Columbia — at best they demonstrate there was
nothing particularly remarkable or distinguished about him at that point in his life that others found memorable 25 years after the fact. Barack Obama
himself would likely agree with that assessment, as he noted himself that he spent his time at Columbia largely alone and isolated:
In his memoir and in interviews, Obama has said he got serious and buckled down in New York. "I didn't socialize that much. I was like a monk," he
said in a 2005 Columbia alumni magazine interview. He told biographer David Mendell: "For about two years there, I was just painfully alone and really
not focused on anything, except maybe thinking a lot."
Although Barack Obama may not have been particularly social or memorable during his years at Columbia, it isn't true that "no one ever came forward
from Obama's past saying they knew him, attended school with him, was his friend, etc." Those who have attested to having daily personal experience
with him during his time at that school include:
Friend and roommate Sohale Siddiqi, whom the Associated Press located and interviewed in May 2008.
Roommate Phil Boerner, who provided his recollections of sharing a New York City apartment with classmate Barack Obama to the Columbia College
Today alumni publication and the New York Times in early 2009.
Michael L. Baron, who taught the year-long honors seminar in American Foreign Policy that Barack Obama took during his senior year at Columbia and
recalled in an NBC interview Obama's "easily acing" the class and receiving an A for his senior paper on the topic of nuclear negotiations with the
Likewise, other external evidence documents Barack Obama's presence at Columbia from 1981-83, including:
An article by Barack Obama published in the 10 March 1983 edition of Columbia's Sundial school magazine.
A January 2005 Columbia College Today profile of Barack Obama as a Columbia alumnus.
A Columbia College press release from November 2008 identifying him as "the first College alumnus to be elected President of the United
Finally, the fatal flaw in the "Obama didn't go to Columbia" theory is that he couldn't have been admitted to Harvard Law School in 1988 without
having received an undergraduate degree. If he wasn't attending Columbia from 1981-83, he would have had to complete two full years' worth of
coursework at (and graduate from) some other accredited college — yet his time between the end of his Columbia days in 1983 and his entering Harvard
Law in 1988 is accounted for (working at the Business International Corporation and the New York Public Interest Research Group, then serving as
director of the Developing Communities Project in Chicago), and no other school claims him as an alumnus, nor does anyone purport to have encountered
him as a classmate or student at any other college or university during that period.
Last updated: 23 February 2010
Urban Legends Reference Pages © 1995-2012 by Barbara and David P. Mikkelson.
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Boerner, Phil. "Barack Obama '83, My Columbia College Roommate."
Columbia College Today. January/February 2009.
Boss-Bicak, Shira. "Barack Obama '83."
Columbia College Today. January/February 2005.
Cowan, Alison Leigh. "Recollections of Obama's Ex-Roommate."
The New York Times. 20 January 2009.
Goldman, Adam and Robert Tanner. "Old Friends Recall Obama's Years in LA, NY."
USA Today. 15 May 2008.
Obama, Barack. "Breaking the War Mentality."
Sundial. 10 March 1983.
Popkin, Jim. "Obama and the Case of the Missing 'Thesis.'"
MSNBC.com. 24 July 2008.
Scott, Janny. "Obama's Account of New York Years Often Differs from What Others Say."
The New York Times. 30 October 2007.
Vogel, Kenneth P. "What Are the Candidates Hiding?"
Politico.com. 23 October 2008.
Welch, Matt. "Wayne Allyn Root's Million-Dollar Challenge."
Reason. 5 September 2008.
The Wall Street Journal. "Obama's Lost Years."
11 September 2008 (p. A14).
edit on 1/30/2012 by Missing Blue Sky because: (no reason given)