Hashemi may seek degree program spot

Rahmatullah Hashemi has submitted his application to the Eli Whitney Students Program, said Mike Hoover, one of three founders of the International Education Foundation, the organization that initially brought Hashemi to America. Yale officials declined to confirm receipt of Hashemi’s application Thursday.

There had previously been conflicting reports regarding whether Hashemi — a former diplomat under the foreign minister of the Taliban who is currently enrolled in Yale’s Nondegree Students Program — would apply to the degree-granting Eli Whitney program following national media attention to his case.

“He already applied,” Hoover said Wednesday night. “He’s doing all he can to come back. He tries as hard as he can in all of his classes.”

Hoover said he thinks it is important for Hashemi to earn a spot in the Whitney program.

“He would like to get in the degree-status program,” he said. “For him to be a real shaker, it would be great to have graduated with a degree. It’s a real major accomplishment.”

Earlier this week, Yale President Richard Levin announced that a Yale College subcommittee has been slated to convene during the summer to clarify the missions and admissions qualifications for entry to the non-degree and degree-granting options of Yale’s Special Student Program.

Hoover said that when he heard about the announcement, he e-mailed Levin to see if he might take the time to meet with Hashemi in person. Although Levin declined to comment specifically on any correspondence with Hoover or on a potential meeting with Hashemi, he said Hashemi will be held to the same standard as an applicant to Yale College.

“The standard will be equivalent to that for regular admission,” Levin said.

Yale Dean of Undergraduate Admissions Jeffrey Brenzel said that while interviews are usually a component of the application process to the Whitney Program, they are typically conducted by an admissions officer — not the president of the University.

Clinton Taylor ’96, who, after Hashemi became the subject of national media attention, launched a campaign and Weblog called NailYale — a name that makes reference to the rumored Taliban practice of removing the nails of women who wear noticeable nail polish — said he believes Hashemi’s chances of being accepted into the program are slim.

“Based on President Levin’s latest statement about the standards involved, I would say Hashemi’s chances are not looking good,” Taylor wrote in an e-mail. “His Afghani G.E.D. won’t be of much help here.”

Hoover said he thinks Hashemi has responded to the increased scrutiny capably, though it took the 27-year-old some time to adjust.

“When it first came out, he felt kind of sad,” he said. “Before, he had just been a normal student who had ideas and opinions, and then he wasn’t. But the students are great. Lots of students found [his presence] exciting. People have been talking to him.”

Hoover said that while Hashemi’s financial sponsors — who also include Tatiana Maxwell and Bob Schuster ’67 — knew the issue would foster discussion, they did not necessarily envision that it would have garnered the lasting attention that it has.

“This is why we decided to it in the first place,” Hoover said. “We didn’t expect this to go on for so long. I think it’s partly because there wasn’t so much news going on.”

Hashemi did not return calls requesting an interview for this story, but Hoover said he understands Hashemi’s silence on the matter.

“The more he talks about it, the more it brings the issue up,” Hoover said. “No matter what he writes, even if he wrote the best op-ed in the history of The New York Times, it would bring the issue back up.”

Any comments Hashemi makes on the continuing controversy could also have repercussions on the safety of his wife and children who still live in Pakistan, Hoover said.

The deadline for applications to the Eli Whitney Students Program is May 1. Acceptance and rejection notifications are made sometime within two months of that date.

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