For only $1,900 a month, you can rent an apartment President Obama lived in during his years at Columbia University.
The apartment itself is shabby, a one-bedroom, third-floor walk-up. And while living there is unlikely to shed any light on the issue, it’s interesting that so little is known about that era of Obama’s life.
Obama spent two years Occidental College in Los Angeles, transferring to Columbia University in New York City in 1981 and graduating two years later. Little is known about Obama’s time at Occidental, but even less is known about his time at Columbia.
The president did not release his transcripts from either school during his campaign for the presidency, as John McCain, John Kerry, George W. Bush and Al Gore did. Occidental and Columbia have said they are prevented by federal law from releasing the transcripts.
Obama’s thesis on nuclear disarmament, on which he spent a year at Columbia, has apparently been lost. Obama says he doesn’t have a copy and his professor at the time thinks he lost it when he moved a few years ago.
Obama barely mentions his years at Columbia in his two autobiographies. He has said he didn’t know many people at Columbia and that he spent most of his time in the library reading, “like a monk.” Indeed, Fox News contacted 400 of Obama’s former classmates – no one remembered him.
Some of Obama’s Columbia classmates have since come forward, saying they remembered Obama there. Both schools have confirmed Obama was their student.
Columbia is where Obama “stopped getting high,” he wrote, which his old roommate verified to reporters.
To the New York Times, Obama “declined repeated requests to talk about his New York years, release his Columbia transcript or identify even a single fellow student, co-worker, roommate or friend from those years.” A spokesman told the Times Obama “doesn’t remember the names of a lot of people in his life.”
At Occidental, Obama was better known by classmates. There, he gave what is thought to be his first public speech. In it, he urged his school to disinvest from South Africa because of apartheid.
In “Dreams From My Father,” Obama wrote he socialized with black students but also “the foreign students. The Chicanos. The Marxist professors and structural feminists and punk-rock performance poets … When we ground out our cigarettes in the hallway carpet or set our stereos so loud that the walls began to shake, we were resisting bourgeois society’s stifling constraints.”
A professor at Occidental, Roger Boesche, told the Los Angeles Times Obama was “a very thoughtful student and a very curious student … You didn’t take my European Modern class without wanting to think about deep ideas.”
The White House did not reply to a request for comment.