Academics concerned about the release of college papers written by H. Clinton and M. Obama

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This week, Princeton University lifted restrictions it had placed on public access to Michelle Obama’s senior thesis. The limits on access to her scholarship on “Princeton Educated Blacks and the Black Community” had fueled a small firestorm. (“What’s Princeton Concealing for Michelle” read one headline Monday in The Conservative Voice.)

Similarly, Hillary Clinton’s Wellesley College senior thesis “has been speculated about, spun, analyzed, debated, criticized and defended,” as MSNBC wrote in May. Inaccessible during Bill Clinton’s presidency, “the writings of a 21-year-old college senior, examining the tactics of radical community organizer Saul D. Alinsky, have gained mythic status among her critics — a ‘Rosetta Stone,’ in the words of one, that would allow readers to decode the thinking of the former first lady and 2008 presidential candidate.”

And so a document showcasing a college senior’s intellectual and analytical abilities, typically banished to a dusty library corner or box beneath the bed — in some cases public by default but in actuality unexamined — becomes a commodity of sorts, a clue to who a person is and was.

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