Rushing Franklin Street began earlier than many expected yesterday because of a rumor that former President Barack Obama and his daughter Sasha Obama were on campus. The wild goose chase ended up being a training run for many students, who later rushed to Franklin after UNC beat Duke 88-72.
Group chats, Twitter and other social media platforms were flooded with the rumor that Barack and Sasha were on campus, based on claims that Sasha Obama was touring the School of Media and Journalism. Many people believed they were on campus, but no photos of either Obama on campus have surfaced.
The first location that a herd of students flocked to was Carroll Hall, where many journalism classes are held.
From Carroll, crowds followed rumors that the Obamas had moved into Carolina Hall. From the Hall, the crowd stormed to South Building. Hundreds of students raced from Polk Place and Carroll, through the cold, rainy weather and wet mud for the chance to see the former president.
People gathered outside of South Building and waited until messages began to spread that President Obama was eating at Cosmic Cantina.
“I went to the quad, then Carolina Hall, then ran to Franklin because someone said he was at Cosmic. It was very unlikely, but I was very hopeful,” sophomore Abby Boggins said.
Although many students were drenched from the inclement weather, they still pondered Obama’s next location with big smiles on their faces. The excitement of seeing the former president for the first time outweighed all the negatives Mother Nature threw their way.
For senior Grace Reagan, this would not be her first time seeing Obama in person. She was in the presence of the former president in 2016, when he was on campus to support Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign and to motivate students to hit the polls early.
“It was really cool, I saw him when he was here two years ago, and I thought it would be cool to see him,” Reagan said. “He’s an influential man, and he has my respect.”
Even though Brad Ives, associate vice chancellor for Campus Enterprises, tweeted that Obama was not on campus nor in the state of North Carolina, many still believe he could have been on campus.
Contrary to rumor, @BarackObama is not on @UNC's campus nor is he in Chapel Hill. He's not even in the state of NC right now. I have confirmed this with the head of campus security. #UNC
"My conspiracy theory for him being here is promising,” first-year Danielle Mcclure said. "There was this white van that was crossing in front of the South Building going down E. Cameron Avenue, and three cops were following, so I think he was in the van. Why would three cops be following a white van? Think about it."
The search for the Obama’s on campus left many empty handed, but was the preface to an ecstatic night for the UNC community.
“I got a lot of flack for running around because my friends thought it was a disgrace to the University, but for 30 minutes, a cold, rainy day was a little less bleak,” first-year Bethany Lee said.
It's summer at The Daily Tar Heel! That means no print editions until August, but we've still got you covered with a daily digital news report. Check dailytarheel.com or get the news in your inbox five days a week with the DTH at a Glance email newsletter. For a weekly newsletter focused on Orange County news, choose the OC Report.