Why no one at Columbia remembers Obama

Michael Iachetta writing at American Thinker has an explanation of why no one in Barack Obama graduating class at Columbia College (the undergraduate liberal arts school at Columbia University) remembers him. Columbia, he writes, is an anonymous institution, with little opportunity for organic social interaction. In addition, Obama was a transfer student who entered as a junior and never lived in the university dorms, as is required of freshmen, but in apartments fairly away from the campus. Also, he would not have taken the mandatory freshman Contemporary Civilization and Humanities courses with his own classmates.

To me, a Columbia alumnus who left the school after three semesters precisely because of its anonymity, Iachetta’s theory has some plausibility. But whether it can explain why literally no one at Columbia remember this exotic, race-mixed guy with the exotic name is another question.

- end of initial entry -

Daniel F. writes:

As a Columbia College alumnus (class of ‘84), I thought I would clarify something about this subject.

Columbia College, Columbia University’s Ivy League undergraduate college, does not accept transfer students. Hence, Obama was a student of the Columbia School of General Studies, the University’s undergraduate school for adults and transfer students. The School of General Studies (whose students generally attend the same classes as College students, other than core curriculum classes) is essentially a commuter school, and Obama, like most General Studies students, lived off campus. I would note that friendly journalists researching Obama’s life are likely to assume that he was a Columbia College student and, therefore, to contact people who were at Columbia College the same years he was; not surprisingly, these people don’t remember him.

I gather that Obama was at Columbia two of the same years I was (1981-83), but I never heard of him, so far as I can recall. I was a pretty obscure student, too, but some one researching me (not that there’s any reason to do so) could turn up a handful of Columbia students who would remember me.

LA replies:

Ahh, how interesting. Since he was an undergraduate student at Columbia, I simply assumed that he was at Columbia College. I’ve never seen a news story say that he was in General Studies. This adds another piece to the picture of why people don’t remember him.

Iachetta also does not mention Columbia College or the School of General Studies as distinct from Columbia University; he just refers to “Columbia.” I brought up Columbia College because, assuming (wrongly) that Obama was in the College, I felt the point needed to be clarified.

Daniel F. writes:

I just read the Iachetta article. It does not correspond at all to my memory of my college years at Columbia. He seems to imply that the the “college experience” did not really exist at Columbia College; while that may have been true for students from NYC who went home every weekend (I knew some who did), students like me who lived in dorms on campus full-time had something approximating a normal American residential college experience. Of course, that’s all irrelevant to Obama, who was not part of the College. Also, contrary to what Iachetta says, I’m pretty sure that there was a yearbook for my class. It should also be noted that, while the University is huge, the College is a very small part of it. As to the single-sex nature of the College, the rest of the University was of course open to both sexes, and all-female Barnard College was (and is) just across Broadway. Columbia College men could take most Barnard elective courses, and vice versa. So there really was not much of an all-male atmosphere; as I recall, there were women in all of my classes other than those for the core curriculum.

I do not believe I’ve ever heard of Iachetta, who says he was a member of my class at the College (1984). Of course, I’m sure there are plenty of men in my class whose names I no longer remember.

Finally, while I despise Obama, I must say that conservatives are deluding themselves if they think bringing up his dubious background is, at this late date, going to increase the chance of defeating him. The idea that Obama, who had been living in the United States continuously for at least 10 years when he came to Columbia, went there as a “foreign exchange student,” is risible as well as politically useless.

LA replies:

I don’t think people think he will lose the election over the issue of the hidden chapter of his life at Columbia; I think people want to know why it’s hidden. I know I do.

Daniel R. writes:

Back in late 2008, Mencius Moldbug wrote a couple of posts suggesting that Obama probably didn’t go to Columbia, but was given a degree in exchange for “Services redered” to William Ayers. A blog called IvyGate picked up the story. Moldbug’s posts are here, and here.

August 10

A reader writes:

The fact is that Obama really was at Columbia College. One of my good friends was in his class. No, he doesn’t recall Obama (no one does, apparently), but he says that Obama’s name appears on a graduation program.

The School of General Studies admits “mature students.” Obama was about 20 when he transferred to Columbia College and he would have been too young at the time for admission to General Studies.

Here’s some discussion about how easy it was to get into Columbia College when Obama applied.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at August 08, 2012 03:53 PM | Send

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