Clinton e-mail is a prank, officials say

An e-mail sent to many students Sunday night announcing that former President Bill Clinton LAW ’73 will be speaking at Yale tonight is a hoax, University officials said.

The e-mail, a flyer with Clinton’s official White House portrait, said the Yale Political Forum and the Council on American Diplomacy would host Clinton at 8 p.m. in Battell Chapel for a speech on America’s future entitled, “Society, Policy and a Changing World: Diplomacy in the New Age.” But a Google search did not turn up any results for the Yale Poltical Forum or the Council on American Diplomacy. Yale College Dean Peter Salovey said while he did not receive the e-mail, he is certain that Clinton, who underwent quadruple bypass heart surgery in September, will not be on campus tonight.

“If Clinton were coming, it would be announced in a more formal way than an e-mail,” Salovey said. “It’s too bad the e-mail is fraudulent, because when he did come last fall, he gave a great speech. “

Yale President Richard Levin said last night around 9 p.m. he had not heard anything about Clinton visiting tonight. Levin said the Secret Service arrived on campus to establish security parameters several days before each of Clinton’s last two Yale visits.

“I haven’t heard anything about it,” Levin said. “He’s been on campus a couple of times in the past and we all knew about it in advance.”

The e-mail came from the address yalepoliticalforum@gmail.com. Gmail is a Web-based Google e-mail service.

A student computing assistant said because the e-mail did not come from a Yale e-mail address it would be difficult to trace it back to an individual computer, even if the computer was connected to the Yale network.

Alex Schwed ’06, who did not receive the e-mail until around 10 p.m. last night, said he thinks the timing of the notice would be effective for luring eager students to Battell Chapel.

“If it is a hoax, it doesn’t have much of a point other than getting people to go there,” Schwed said. “Worst case scenario is Bill Clinton does not show up.”

YCC Secretary Michael Schwab ’06, who had not heard about the event, said he thinks a practical joke, even one that features the former leader of the United States, is harmless.

“I think it sounds like even if it were a lie it would be a kind of fun thing to experience,” Schwab said. “I wouldn’t have much of an objection to a hoax.”

Clinton spoke at Yale’s tercentennial celebration in 2001 and again last year at a speech sponsored by the Center for the Study for Globalization. Last year’s speech in Woolsey Hall was preceded by an Internet raffle for seats in the auditorium and in an overflow room with a closed circuit television viewing.

“I wish students who missed his speech had the opportunity to hear him speak again, but alas, it doesn’t look like this is their chance,” Salovey said.

Comments