Chalk messages falsely claim former President Obama coming to campus

University of Iowa and Johnson County Democrat groups are unaware of the alleged visit, and the Iowa Memorial Union said the room where the event is being advertised hasn’t been reserved for an event.


Gabby Drees

Sidewalk chalk, telling passerby that former President Barack Obama will speak at the Hawkeye Room in the Iowa Memorial Union, is seen on the Pentacrest at the University of Iowa on Monday, March 21, 2022.

Natalie Dunlap, Politics Editor

There is no evidence that an event featuring President Barack Obama’s appearance on the University of Iowa campus this week is real, according to multiple university sources. 

There were several messages in chalk on the Pentacrest Monday morning claiming the former president would speak in the Iowa Memorial Union’s Hawkeye Room. 

“Guest Speaker Barack Obama Friday, March 25th 6-8pm IMU-Hawkeye Room,” read one of the messages on the east side of the Pentacrest. 

Though national politicians have come to campus – including former Vice President Mike Pence, who spoke in the Iowa Memorial Union main lounge in November – and Obama did come to campus in 2010, there are no details available about the purported event or who is hosting it. 

Additionally, Obama shared he recently tested positive for COVID-19.

Chair of Johnson County Democrats Ed Cranston, University Democrats at Iowa Vice President Ryan Westhoff, and University of Iowa spokesperson Jeneane Beck all told The Daily Iowan they were unaware of a planned visit from Obama. 

IMU Facility Coordinator Chris Gantt said the room hasn’t been reserved for Friday evening, and that it wouldn’t be an appropriate venue for an event with the former president. 

“A former president visiting campus, that would be in the main lounge, or probably second floor ballroom,” he said. 

According to the University of Iowa’s free speech frequently asked questions page, erasing, overwriting or altering chalk is prohibited by anyone other than the person or organization who did the chalking.