Since Saturday, May 26, 2023, the social media space has been awash with reports that the Chicago State University deleted its 1979 yearbook from its website amid requests for the school to release the academic records of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
A viral video which was first shared on Saturday, August 26, 2023 on micro-blogging platform, X (formerly Twitter) by a user @stanjunior001 showed an individual scrolling through a website that contains Chicago State University yearbooks.
The video was captioned, “What happened to Chicago state university 1979 Yearbook? 🤔 So no one graduated 1979 or why is 1979 not accessible on net? Why did Chicago state university wipeout 1979 Yearbook?”
The video was then posted by controversial political analyst, Mahdi Shehu, as well as a number of influencers and users with verified X accounts alleging that the institution deleted the yearbook to protect President Tinubu.
Shehu in his caption for the video said the Chicago State University was an accomplice to fraud, claiming that the 1979 yearbook was deleted from the University’s website.
“CHICAGO STATE UNIVERSITY AS AN ACCOMPLICE TO FRAUD: Bola said he graduated from CSU in 1979. Suddenly, the 1979 yearbook has disappeared from the CSU website. This means CSU is concealing a fraud so that they can partake in eating “THE FORBIDEN FRUIT.” Well, Fraud is Time bound,” he wrote.
Other influencers including prominent supporters of the candidates of the Labour Party (LP), Peter Obi and People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar posted the video here, here, here and here.
The video has garnered more than 1 million impressions with hundreds of thousands in engagement.
The claim also led to a barrage of attacks on the Twitter page of the Chicago State University, forcing the institution to lock the account.
The victory of Bola Ahmed Tinubu at the February 25 presidential elections is being challenged in the elections’ tribunal by the candidates of the PDP and APC.
One of the grounds the petitioners are seeking Tinubu’s disqualification is the inconsistencies in his academic record, particularly his records from the Chicago State University.
Tinubu’s certificates show that he graduated from CSU in 1979 with a bachelor’s degree in business administration, accounting and management.
However, there have been allegations bordering on discrepancies with the certificate.
Consequently, the candidate of the PDP, Atiku Abubakar, filed a suit seeking to compel the University to release the academic records of Tinubu to him.
VERIFICATION OF CLAIMS
When THE WHISTLER analyzed the video to trace the website from which it was recorded, it was discovered that the video was recorded from Ancestry.com, an American genealogy website that provides users with genealogical, historical, and genetic records.
The website also contained the yearbook of several US universities, middle schools, junior high and high schools and not the website of the University of Chicago as claimed.
As shown in the video, the 1979 yearbook was indeed missing on Ancestry.com’s Chicago University yearbook page. However, graduation records and yearbooks for several other years were also missing from the page.
The page only contained nine yearbooks for Chicago State University, namely; 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1978 and 1980.
A caveat on the website explains that the yearbooks available on the platform are collated through donations from individuals who upload or mail them to the catalogue.
To verify if certain records had been deleted from the page recently, THE WHISTLER employed Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) tool, Wayback Machine, to check web archives of the page in the past.
It was discovered that an old version of the page archived on July 14, 2022, did not contain the 1979 yearbook. The archived page also contained exactly the nine aforementioned yearbooks indicating that nothing had been deleted from or added to the page.
Also comprehensive checks on the official website of the University of Chicago, www.csu.edu showed that the institution does not upload yearbook records on its website.
The materials in its archives section only contain undergraduate and graduate catalogues, course listings and a college handbook.
The website where a video showing the absence of the 1979 Chicago State University yearbook does not belong to the university.
An earlier version of the page shows that no alterations had been made to the yearbook records.
Also, the website of the Chicago State University does not contain graduation yearbooks.
Therefore, claims that the Chicago State University deleted its 1979 yearbook from its website to protect President Tinubu are FALSE and MISLEADING.