FALSE: Imee Marcos 'earned degree from Princeton'

(UPDATED) CLAIM: Ilocos Norte Governor Imee Marcos claimed on January 16 that she earned a degree from Princeton University.

Rappler asked her during a forum in Manila to clarify the matter after the senatorial aspirant first dodged the question in December 2018, when she was asked in a DZMM interview whether she finished her undergraduate degree at Princeton University.

"Oo naman, oo naman (Yes, of course)," said Marcos on January 16, adding that her degree was "religion and politics."

Marcos' biography on Facebook also described her as "one of the first female graduates from an Ivy League School – Princeton University, graduating with honors."

Screenshot from Marcos' Facebook page

RATING: FALSE

The facts: Princeton deputy university spokesperson Michael Hotchkiss told Rappler via email that Marcos did not finish her degree.

"Our records do not show that Ms Marcos was awarded a degree," said Hotchkiss.

He did confirm, however, that Marcos attended Princeton, first during the Fall 1973 to Spring 1976 terms, then during the Fall 1977 to Spring 1979 terms.

Her major field was "Independent Concentration in Religion and Politics." Hotchkiss explained that "concentration" is Princeton's term for what is called a "major" or a student's primary area of study in other universities. But he said Marcos did not finish her concentration.

An article published on Tuesday, February 26, in The Daily Princetonian said Marcos was "not an average student" at Princeton.

The article quoted a letter from then-Philippine consul general Ernesto Pineda addressed to then-dean of student affairs Adele Simmons. The letter, dated July 30, 1973, said Marcos would live outside the campus, be escorted by Philippine security personnel, and have a Filipino chauffeur drive her to and from the university.

Another article by the Prince published on September 11, 1973, reported the Asian-American Students Association (AASA) had protested Marcos' admission to Princeton.

"The AASA worried that the presence of Marcos and her security personnel would be threatening to students who were critical of her father’s government," said The Daily Princetonian

Hotchkiss was not able to provide other academic files of Marcos – like copies of her grades – as these are not allowed to be shared to the public because of a United States federal law, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974.

But a column published on August 31, 1983, in Princeton's Town Topics newspaper said that Marcos "flunked out" of the university.

This column, titled "Dear Brooke: Here's The Lowdown On Coping With Your New Role As A Princeton Freshman," was addressed to model and actress Brooke Shields, who attended Princeton in 1983. The piece talked about what a Princeton freshman can expect during his or her first few days at the university.

The column ended with a reference to Marcos, which goes: "You might draw a lesson from the experience of Imee Marcos. She never did graduate; she flunked out. At Princeton, that is one thing that is still being taken very seriously." – with reports from Vernise Tantuco/Rappler.com

Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda writes about politics and women’s rights for Rappler. She covers the House of Representatives and the Office of the Vice President. Got tips? Send her an email at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or shoot her a tweet @maracepeda.

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