Fliers bearing the Ten Commandments and a note supposedly written by Yale University Chaplain Frederick Streets circulated throughout rooms in Linsly-Chittenden Hall early this week.
The fliers contain a note apparently signed by Streets urging professors to take class time to discuss the effect of the Ten Commandments on their personal lives. Streets said Thursday neither he nor his office has any link to the fliers, calling them a “blatant misrepresentation.”
“We certainly wouldn’t encourage the faculty to use class time to discuss the Ten Commandments,” Streets said.
Printed at the bottom of the fliers is the Yale logo and a banner reading “The Yale University Chaplain’s Office: Committed to providing excellence in faith services.”
Streets said his office had no part in the posting of the fliers, noting that the motto printed on the fliers is not even that of the Chaplain’s Office.
“My office works very hard to promote tolerance and interfaith interaction,” Streets said. “[The fliers do] not reflect our office.”
Streets said he has already reported the incident to the Yale Police Department, as well as to the President’s and Dean’s offices. Streets said he also reported the fliers to the Yale Religious Ministries, the umbrella organization for the Yale Chaplains, so that members may tell their students that the postings are improper.
The fliers were presented as a message from the Chaplain’s Office to celebrate National Values Week, which lasts from Feb. 1 to Feb. 7.
Streets said he was shocked by the duplicitous nature of the fliers — they intended to pass along an ethical code while resorting to forgery.
“Not only is it plagiarism, but they are using unethical practices to promote ethical tenets,” Streets said. “The hypocrisy is clear.”
Streets said he was most worried about how students might react to the fliers if they took them seriously. He said he would be more than happy to receive e-mails from students about the incident, as well as to hold a larger forum for discussion if students express interest.
“Students see this and think its official,” Streets said. “It has the chance of alienating us from a segment of the community.”
Grace Berry ’06, a student in Trumbull College, for which Streets served as Interim Master for the 2002-2003 school year, said she felt Streets was justified in being both offended and concerned.
“He has a right to be upset because these are not his words,” Berry said. “People shouldn’t be impersonating him.”
Joseph Boonsiri ’05, another Trumbullian, said he, too, thought Streets’ reaction was warranted.
“Someone used his name without his consent,” Boonsiri said. “I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t do something like that.”
Boonsiri said he thought Streets would approve of students pursuing an ethical and religious education, but would not respect such an imposition.
“If people want to go out and learn about religious-based ethics, I’m sure he would be in favor of them going out and doing it themselves, if they choose,” Boonsiri said.
Streets said he hopes to resolve the issue through open discussion so such acts of plagiarism are not repeated. He said the act was significant regardless of the number of people who responded negatively to the fliers.
“This is not a question of how many people didn’t like the fliers,” he said. “If I hadn’t heard it from one person, the problem would still remain.”
— Staff Reporter Steven Syverud contributed to this report