How to Get Obama to Speak at Commencement

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On the Low Steps? Could be.

Columbia College 2011 President Sean Udell and Vice President Alexandra Coromilas have founded the CUPOTUS Project. As you might guess, its goal is to secure President Barack Obama CC ’83 as speaker for university-wide Commencement. But wait!  Before you shake your heads and dismiss it as a pipe dream, listen up–their strategy is different. In the words of Udell himself:

Here’s the deal: President Obama has been sent the official invitation by President Bollinger and the Class of 2011. But he’s been sent invitations before. What we think will do the trick, however, is to demonstrate a grassroots movement made up of a united student body. That’s a tall order, but I have a feeling that we can pull this off.

Here’s what you can do to help:

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

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  1. My

    suggestion is that you invite him to speak at the commencement of the class of 2013, when he will hopefully have more time.

  2. convince me  

    I don't understand why I should help if I'm a student in a different class or a member of the New York/Morningside Heights community when only the graduates of the Class of 2011 and parents of said graduates will be there.






  4. Explain to me  

    why I want Obama to come speak at commencement when I can just turn on the TV at any point and see him speak there? Can't we do something way cooler, and see if we could get someone like Bill Waterson to come speak, even if he's not remotely affiliated with CU? Better yet, let's have a medium come in and see what Alexander Hamilton has to say about all of this. I'd watch that.

  5. welp  

    nothing quite says official petition like Arial Narrow.

  6. Anonymous  

    well i'm not in columbia college so no thank you

  7. Screw this

    Dictator who has ruined our economy and imposed unconstitutional policies

  8. CC'14

    Stand back, everyone, and let my Freshman Follies editorial work its magic. Obama won't be able to turn us down after I refer to the "Odyssey" of his first term as president!

  9. this  

    will certainly not work. I cant believe THIS is what our senior council is wasting their time on. seriously, are they retarded? Obama does NOT want to be associated with Columbia. now fix the god damn meal plan.

  10. Harmony Hunter  

    since when did everyone start caring about this dumb stuff and stop caring about the location of harmony?

  11. Anonymous

    We should get that guy who plays Kenny Powers on "Eastbound and Down" to be the speaker. That shit would be inspiring!

  12. Fuck Obama  

    Let's bring back Matthew Fox!

  13. Anonymous  

    Vampire Weekend '11

  14. Anonymous  

    he'd have more time because he would be a second term president who doesn't have to worry about being affiliated with Fox News' favorite liberal university.

  15. ...  

    he'll never do it. columbia treated him like garbage (no housing, no financial aid). the fact that no one remembers him is also telling of what his experience must have been like. hell, they weren't able to clear their student loans for for over a decade when the book was published... (michelle obama is on the record bitching about their student loans)

    i'd be shocked if he did it...

    besides... think about it... the dude is socially left. if he's going to elevate the status of an institution, what sort of institution do you think he'd pick? elite private university that is already top 10 globally known where less than 30% take pell grants and roughly 50% receive no aid at all (ie: their families happen to have $200k to spare) or perhaps a public institution that is more about spreading opportunity as far and wide as possible.

    think about it.

    then start thinking about a realistic option.

    • That was  

      my initial reaction too. he made it quite obvious he did not enjoy his time here, he probably had serious issues with the atmosphere and people who populated this kind of institution. let's face it, we're second to no-one when it comes to feeling entitled.

      but if you think about the kind of impact a speech of his may have on a graduating class that will leave Columbia and enjoy the same privileged position by pulling strings in many parts of the world... it may just be worth for him to try to instill different kinds of values in new graduates. at the very least, he'll make those who aimlessly flock to Wall Street have second thoughts about how they are using the education they were lucky to receive, and what other kinds of impact they may have if they consider less beaten tracks. PrezBo had a similar and quite memorable speech at the SEAS Class Day 2 years ago. because pessimism abounds, it seems to me that many lose sight of what they could do if they didn't feel so pressured to take jobs and join the ranks of a system that is showing its limits. who better than Obama to re-kindle the passion and confidence that we can think a bit about how we do things and do them better in the future by playing our strengths and aiming high? even if it's risky to go that route.

      plus, Columbia has changed quite a bit from what Obama may remember. yes, it's elitist, but there are niches that are not so. many people here tend to respect and inspire each other, and comparing us to other elite institutions, I do think we are better about connecting to "the world out there".

      long story short, it may be worth for Obama to re-think what he knows about Columbia based on a rather short stay here. we need confidence as much as the next person that we can do something about not letting things go to shit. e.g. climate change. and we have some potential because we were somewhat trained to at least start doing it. I think a lot of the resistance Obama is facing in office comes from the fact that certain value systems weren't reassessed on time. addressing young Ivy League graduates who will make some of the decisions that may lead to that reassessment seems like a good investment to me.

      in any case. we should keep Julia Stiles'number at the ready.

      • Anonymous  

        no one actually ever remembers what their commencement speakers said. stop being such a goddamn idealist.

      • ...  

        that sounds delightful, but lets be honest... the only reason why people want this is so that they can be annoying: "well, you know, back during my commencement at columbia, we had an old alum, barack obama speak, and i was really struck when he ........ "

        the kind of change you're describing sounds spot on. but that doesn't involve barack obama taking a good hard look at columbia and making changes. that involves columbia (both admin and students) taking a good hard look at itself and making changes. this assumed superiority shit has got to stop, all one has to do is look at what's going on with the us economy and it's rapidly changing relative position in the world to get a sense for where that sort of thinking leads...

      • Anonymous  


        stopped at "aimlessly flock to Wall Street." you're exactly the kind of smug elitist that makes obama not want to speak here. you think your intended job path after graduation is somehow better than everyone else's? get off your high horse, you're just a stupid lefty that is going to be humbled by the real world.

  16. Hmmm...  

    So all we have to do to get the President's attention is to fake a grassroots movement that's actually in the interest of our monied university? Will tea be served?

  17. Yikes...  

    since the CC class council is making this their mission for the year (as per the press release), imagine how shitty the person who actually comes to speak is going to feel--i.e. "We spent our whole year working our asses off to secure Obama and now we have you. Awesome."

  18. Anonymous  

    i think this is great, but the seal on the top of the press release looks ridiculous.

    this is press release from soon to be graduates of columbia college, and it looks like the middle school president of some jersey middle school just learned photoshop.


  19. Anonymous  

    Why are there so many z's in these e-mails?

  20. Anonymous  

    I'm confused as to how having Obama deliver the COMMENCEMENT speech (in lieu of President Bollinger) would provide us with a speaker who's words would represent the embodiment of our experience here these past four years and future loyalty to our Alma. He barely even recognizes his time here while hoards of students constantly praise him and kiss his feet loading that \The President is a Columbia grad!\---hasn't anybody realized yet that if Obama wanted to come back to his Alma, he would've already. At least made some sort of concerted recognition of this school or participated in Alumni activities in some manner. The only reason he came back was for ServiceNation-- a completely political agenda. May I remind you that while he was on campus for that event he made no attempt to host a discussion or lecture with students. HE DOESN'T LIKE THIS SCHOOL....its pathetic really how students rally behind his alumnus status here.

    I would favor having another speaker who actually held a sense of Columbia pride and attachment to remark on my last four years here and the future that lies ahead. The point of the speaker, especially the requirement they be tied to the Columbia community in some way, is for them to be able to relate to graduating class and share words of wisdom on how to utilize their Columbia experience to be successful in whatever way that is in the future.

    It still baffles me to this day why so many students on this campus hold such great pride and admiration for a Columbia grad in office who refuses to acknowledge them. If Obama had a bad experience at Columbia, I sincerely feel bad for him, but it is crazy to me that our student body would want somebody like that addressing them on Commencement day. At best his speech would be laden with propaganda and political motives--not something I want to look back on and remember as my graduation ceremony, but hey maybe that's just me.

  21. Anonymous  

    Obama????Glen Beck! Glen Beck! Glen Beck!

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