Levin stays mum on Hashemi

Yale officials denied a claim made in Monday’s Wall Street Journal Online that President Richard Levin would make the final decision about the application of former Taliban diplomat Rahmatullah Hashemi if he applies for regular degree status this May.

Wall Street Journal columnist John Fund reported that an anonymous Yale official told him Levin had “wrested control of the decision” away from the Admissions Office. Fund said he spoke to the source — who had taken part in or overheard a conversation concerning Hashemi’s admission last week — during the weekend. But Levin said Monday that the allegations are false, and Hashemi’s fate is not his to decide.

“I’ve never had such conversations and the decision will be made by the admissions committee,” Levin said.

Hashemi is currently a non-degree special student and has garnered national media attention since appearing on the cover of The New York Times Magazine last month.

Fund said he rechecked the information with his source yesterday and is confident of his contact’s credibility.

“My source stands by their story and I stand by it,” he said. “I have spoken with several former top Yale officials who say something this controversial would of course ultimately be handled in the President’s Office.”

But several Yale officials said a designated committee that evaluates candidates for admission as special students will make the decision on Hashemi’s admission. Yale spokeswoman Helaine Klasky said Fund’s source is misinformed.

“Just because Fund defends that is what his source said, does not make his source right,” Klasky said in an e-mail. “His source is wrong.”

Dean of Undergraduate Admissions Jeffrey Brenzel also said his office will be solely responsible for making a decision if Hashemi applies.

“The authority and responsibility for making admissions decisions lies in the Office of Undergraduate Admissions, not [with] the president or the President’s Office,” he said.

Alumni have expressed a range of opinions on Hashemi’s presence at Yale, while a few have taken specific action. Clinton Taylor ’96 and Debbie Bookstaber ’00 have launched a campaign called NailYale, in which they are urging alumni to send fake plastic fingernails to the Development Office in lieu of financial donations, in reference to the rumored Taliban practice of removing women’s fingernails if they chose to paint them.

Texas Sen. John Cornyn has also spoken out against Hashemi, arguing that Hashemi should not have been allowed to come to the United States. Cornyn also sent a letter to Department of Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff calling for Hashemi’s deportation under the provisions of the 2005 REAL ID Act.

Hashemi applied for a visa at the United States Consulate in Peshawar, Paskistan, in July 2004, and received a B2 prospective-student visa within a couple of weeks, according to The New York Times. State Department spokesperson Janelle Hironimus said Hashemi’s name would have been checked against a database of names compiled from several U.S. government agencies.

“His visa, as are all student visas, was processed according to U.S. laws,” Hironimus said. “There was no oversight.”

Barmark Nassirian, associate executive director of the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers, said the presence of controversial students on a university campus sometimes merits consideration by high-level University officials.

“It would not be unusual for all the institutional stakeholders to have a say where a case transcends the ordinary,” Nassirian said. “There’s nothing inappropriate or peculiar about it.”

The Association of Yale Alumni and the Development Office have both seen in an increase in phone calls and letters since Hashemi’s story was made public, University officials said.

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