“This happened in Steven’s Hall,” he said. "What happened in the dormitory tended to stay in the dormitory. Because of the potential for severe disciplinary action, people kept their mouths shut.
“So I didn’t have any personal recollection of that incident but, before that story broke, I did talk to some of my classmates and a couple of them had said something about it. But when I heard about it, my response was, ‘Yeah, that probably happened.’ I don’t doubt the veracity of the people who said it because I know them and they are very ethical people. I have no reason to question the validity of the story.”
Barthwell said that people should understand that this occurred nearly 50 years ago and this does not reflect who Mitt Romney is now. He also added that Mitt was known as a “middle of the road” student academically and a bit of a prankster.
“In a dormitory full of teenage boys, that was the kind of setting where that sort of thing could happen from time to time,” Barthwell said. “But if somebody asked me if I thought Mitt was a bully, the answer is a very definitive no. Mitt was not an intimidating person at all.”
“He was skinny. He wasn’t an athlete; he wasn’t a leader of the class. At the time, he was not considered one of the top scholars at the school,” Barthwell said, adding that he thinks the hair cutting incident is being blown out of proportion. “It was an unfortunate incident obviously, but I don’t think that it would end up being as dastardly as it has been portrayed.”
Ironically, more than 20 years later, Barthwell would become a classmate of President Obama’s at Harvard Law School. After finishing his undergraduate degree at Wayne State University in 1987, Barthwell entered Harvard, where Obama started attending the following year.
“We worked together on a law review at Harvard,” Barthwell said. “Barack was from Chicago, I was from Detroit and that was back in the days of the Bad Boys (Detroit Pistons) so I used to ride Barack about (the Chicago Bulls).”
“Barack was a very, very nice guy; a very smart guy. In a city full of upright people, he really stood out as being an exceptionally intelligent man,” Barthwell said. “I’ve never heard a bad thing come out of that man’s mouth and I haven’t yet.”