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Straight From South Lawn, The 2012 Obamanard Liveblog

Will it look something like this? We'll find out soon!

The time is now! President Barack Obama is slated to hit up Columbia’s very own South Lawn at 12:30 pm today (!) to give the commencement address to Barnard’s graduating class. We’ll keep you in the loop with lots of photos and details about the before/after/during. Send your own to!

For more live updates/frantic pun attempts, check out our twitter and watch the live feed.

2:40 pm: DSpar making closing remarks. We’ll see you at the “refreshments”!

2:17 pm: Aaaand we’re back. Names continue.

2:16 pm: Pause in the name readings… Hertz heard saying, “theatre?” Unclear why.

2:00 pm: DSpar: “Everybody can now take a deep breath.”

Now, for the degrees…

Names are being read, hands being shaken. Stand by.

AHinks hands the mic off to Acting Provost and Dean of Faculty Paul Hertz.

Tipster informs us that PrezBo left just after Obama’s speech—can anyone confirm or deny?

Two Lenas in a row! What are the odds.

1:59 pm: It’s over! Person behind podium with personal camera snaps one last back-of-the-head shot as he leaves…

He’s hugging people. We want to be those people!

1:29 pm: Shout out to PrezBo from PrezOb! We forgot the former was here…

“I’ll begin by telling a hard truth: I’m a Columbia College graduate.”

Apparently he and “Meryl” (as in Streep) are on a first-name basis. “Keep your friends close, and your Barnard Commencement speakers closer.”

Throwback to the Walkman! And possibly moon-walking. It’s unclear.

Has moved on to the economic crisis.

“This recession has been more brutal. The job losses steeper…”

Speaks of media coverage telling depressing stories.

“As tough as things have been, I’m convinced that you are tougher… I’ve heard your voices amplified by creativity and a digital fluency that some of us in older generations can barely comprehend.”

“The question is not whether things will get better—they always do. The question is not whether we have the solutions to our questions…”

Calling for clean energy!

“We know that we’re better off when there are rules that stop big banks from making bad bets with other people’s money…”

“We know that we are better off when women are treated fairly and equally in every aspect of American life whether it’s the salary you earn or the health decisions you make.”

So post-modern: “I recognize that that’s a cheap applause line” following assertion that women will lead the way. “But it’s true!”

“How far your leadership takes this country—how far it takes the world—is up to you. You’ve got to want it! It will not be handed to you.”

“Fight for a seat at the head of the table.”

~*ObamaFact: Women only account for 3% of the CEOs at Fortune 500 countries.*~

“If you decide not to seat yourself at the table, you have to make sure you have a say in who does.” #TableMetaphorContinues

“Don’t wait for the person next to you to be the first person to speak up for what’s right—because maybe, just maybe, they’re waiting for you.”

~*ObamaFact: More women graduate from college than men.*~

“Do not underestimate the power of your example.”

References the need for more women in fields like computer science and engineering.

“You can be stylish, and powerful too. That’s Michelle’s advice.”

Last piece of advice: “Persevere. Nothing worthwhile is easy.”

Allusion to going from “motley apartment to motley apartment.” Ruggles blushes.

Nobody showed up to Obama’s first big community meeting back when he was an undergrad! (He has yet to specify whether or not there was free food. We have our suspicions.)

His mom used to wake up him “before dawn” to study.

Anecdotes about raising young family with Michelle.

“Michelle saw how her parents never quit. They never indulged in self-pity, no matter how stacked the odds were against them. They didn’t quit.”

“They may not have set out to change the world, but in small important ways, they did.”

“Making your mark on the world is hard. It takes patience. It takes committment. It comes with plenty of setbacks and failures.”

“The trajectory of this country should give you hope. What young generations have done before should give you hope.”

“If you’re ready to fight for that brilliant, radically simple idea of America, then no matter who you are or what you look like, no matter who you love or what God you worship, you can still pursue your own happiness. I will join you every step of the way. Now more than ever, America needs what you—the Class of 2012—has to offer.”

1:28 pm: There’s so. much. applause.

1:26 pm: DSpar still giving introduction. Obama has totally perfected that aforementioned pensive resting face. Nice.

It’s over! He’s up!

1:25 pm: So much cheering! It’s like a Justin Bieber concert out here.

1:22 pm: Tipster wandering the streets reminds us that life exists outside of South Lawn. Apparently PrezOb is anti-umbrella?

1:21 pm: Woman directly behind podium spotted taking back-0f-head pic of Obama. Send it to tips!

1:19 pm: DSpar approaches the podium to give Obama the last Medal of Distinction. He’s so calm and collected.

Speech! Speech! Speech!

1:08 pm: Time for awarding of the Medals of Distinction.

Britney Wilson presents the first one to chem professor Sally Chapman.

Next one goes to Helene Gayle, BC ’76 and CEO of CARE USA, presented by anthro professor Paige West.

Evan Wolfson gets the third medal, presented by Judith Kaye, BC ’58.

Obama up next!

1:01 pm: Senior Daniele Lerner begins her Academic Reflections with a direct address to Obama.

Says Socrates is to Glaucon as The Creature is to Frankenstein.

Metaphor in which the collective we become the electrons in an atom’s valence shell works! Nightmarish flashbacks to GenChem, however, subsequently occur…

12:59 pm: Class fund co-chairs Jordana Kaminetsky and Eileen Smith present the Senior Gift.

12:57 pm: DSpar presents the Frank Gilbert Bryson Prize—decided via student vote—to… Madalena Provo. Congratulations!

12:49 pm: SGA’s Jessica Blank takes the stage.

Another reference to being President, with a coy glance at Obama!

Mention of #WomenHelpingWomen.

Throwback to Oprah on campus!

Quotes Albright, “There is a special place in hell for women who do not help other women.”

12:43 pm: Next up, class president Jaclyn D’Aversa.

She speaks of a pre-college visit during which she met people who she thought would one day rule the world: “With all due respect Mr. President, it’s a good thing that none of the women in the class of 2012 are running for President this year.”

Everyone cheers audibly for “Art History major.”

Frost poem gets some play.

12:40 pm: DSpar opens ceremony. Jolyne Caruso-FitzGerald, BC ’81, takes the stage. Screen subtitles transcribes a “know” in her speech to “no”!

12:38 pm: Audience member aptly describes applause and cheering as, “literally deafening.”

12:37 pm: Obama takes the stage!!!!! He’s so smiley.

12:35 pm: They’re chanting “DSpar! DSpar! DSpar!”

12:34 pm: PrezBo just passed Bwog! In the flesh!

12:33 pm: Note to selves: before own graduations, perfect pensive stare for use in candid crowd shots.

12:31 pm: Profs and company getting lots of applause.

12:25 pm: “I’d hurt someone for pizza right now.” -Overheard from anonymous bystander that totally isn’t with us, we swear…

12:18 pm: Graduates still waiting to take seats. Despite program note, renegade audience members pointedly NOT remaining seated.

12:12 pm: It looks like this…

12:09 pm: Procession officially proceeding. Awwww.

12:08 pm: There’s clapping! The grads are standing and starting to walk!

12:00 pm: Half-hour to go ’til ceremony begins. Audience member describes atmosphere as “energetic, but still pretty casual.”

Overheard: communal acknowledgement of what seems to be a Best of Billy Joel playlist.

11:55 am: Sound of helicopters overhead. Possibly unrelated, but still dramatic!

11:40 am: Line for Lerner bathrooms stretches all the way to the lobby.

11:30 am: Got our grubby freshly showered hands on a program. Check it out:

You had us at "refreshments."

11:19 am: It’s raining a little… grasping for a metaphor…

11:15 am: Everyone is through security. A man is repeating strings of numbers into mic (presumably to check sound?)—it’s just like Lost. Also, they’re projecting a slideshow of commencement trivia/photos.

11:05 am: Crowd amasses; light sweatiness ensues.

That’s So Raven moment via Wikimedia Commons

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  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous such poise, ms d’aversa. you make us proud

  • PREZBLA says:

    @PREZBLA ROCKED IT! loved #womenhelpingwomen

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous The names were read way too fast, and with a cavalier disregard for accuracy (at least on Dean Hinkson’s part). I hope that improves in future (President-free) years….

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous From my experience, for how much “feminine support” talk these Barnard girls claim and promote, they are awfully bitchy to other women. Practice what you preach ladies, and I mean 365..not just on commencement day!

    1. what on earth says:

      @what on earth are you even talking about

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous Prezbla’s speech was BALLER!!!!!

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous PrezBo left as soon as Obama left the stage alongside the mass exodus of press/Secret Service. He got off on the West side (towards Journalism) before presumably cutting towards Amsterdam on College Walk.

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous I can confirm that PrezBo left after PrezOb left. From the Amsterdam overpass, I saw PrezBo trying to cross the street, getting *twice* turned back by NYPD, before ey found some important suit guy to escort em across the street. Even some staff members were laughing about it. After I left the overpass, they were still calling names at the ceremony, which is how I can confirm.

  • Daniele Lerner says:


  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous did he stay and shake hands with the grads?

    ((side note: my reCAPTCHA is ‘Eurydice.’ Oh Columbia/Bwog, even your internet security measures are pretentious))

    1. Anonymous says:

      @Anonymous Nope, he left immediately after the speech. Although he did have to walk back to the podium to get his medal/whatever it was.

  • CC Alum... says:

    @CC Alum... Madalena Provo is the greatest.

  • GSer says:

    @GSer So many names they have to rush. No mention of honors, either. CC class day must be even worse. I wonder what the largest school to read names is… I can’t imagine any school can do more than about 1,000?

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous Impressive graduation. Well spoken women. Congratulations!

  • CC'12 says:

    @CC'12 Stop being an ass

    1. Was meant for annoying Barnard-bashing... says:

      @Was meant for annoying Barnard-bashing... comment above

  • lol says:

    @lol Women only account for 3% of the CEOs at Fortune 500 countries. RAPE CULTURE.

    1. Anonymous says:

      @Anonymous Victim blaming!

  • Motorcade? says:

    @Motorcade? Where’s the motorcade?

    1. Anonymous says:

      @Anonymous by the motorboat

  • GET A PICTURE says:


  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous So fucking classy that he’s wearing Columbia robes with Harvard hood.

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous congrats maddie!!!!!!!!!! so deserved

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous Yay, Maddie! She is so cool.

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous Why are the Barnard speakers so retarded? Obama can’t even look up because he feels so embarrassed hahaha.

    1. Anonymous says:

      @Anonymous well he won’t be looking at anything at your graduation ceremony, turd

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous Holy crap Jaclyn D’Aversa is so well spoken.

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