Rahmatuallah Hashemi — the former diplomat to the foreign minister of the Taliban — was denied admission to Yale’s degree-granting Eli Whitney Students Program, according to one of his sponsors.
Hashemi, 27, spent last year studying at Yale through the Nondegree Students Program. He can return to Yale and remain in that program next year if he wishes, Tatiana Maxwell — president of the International Education Foundation, which was created to fund Hashemi’s schooling at Yale — told The New York Times. Hashemi gained national attention when The New York Times Magazine ran a profile of Hashemi as its cover story in February.
Neither Hashemi nor any of his sponsors at the International Education Foundation responded to requests for comment today.
Yale spokeswoman Helaine Klasky said in a statement that Yale accepted two out of 29 applicants for the Eli Whitney Students Program this year.
“The program had come under scrutiny this past spring, and Yale President Richard Levin had directed that, pending a full review, the standard for admission to this program should be as rigorous and demanding as that used in the admissions of full-time regular Yale College students,” Klasky said in the statement.
In April, Levin announced that a Yale College subcommittee would 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. The subcommittee will be co-chaired by Levin and Yale College Dean Peter Salovey, Klasky said.
“The standard will be equivalent to that for regular admission,” Levin said in April, in reference to Hashemi’s application.
Yale officials would not comment specifically about Hashemi’s decision, as the University has a policy of not commenting on specific applicants.
John Fund, a Wall Street Journal columnist who has been covering the Hashemi controversy, said the decision seems to placate all parties involved.
“It is a purposefully muddled end,” Fund wrote in an e-mail. “I think everyone here is trying to save face …Yale can claim they didn’t bend to pressure, sponsors can claim he can still get his U.S. education.”
Hashemi’s presence at Yale created a maelstrom of controversy since it was revealed that Hashemi — who was featured for 30 seconds in Michael Moore’s “Fahrenheit 9/11” — was studying at the University.
While some students and teachers — including many of those who interacted directly with Hashemi — supported his presence at Yale, others did not view the issue as favorably. Two alumni, Clint Taylor ’96 and Debbie Bookstaber ’00, 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 — encouraging alumni to forego donations to Yale until the University’s decision to admit Hashemi was more fully explained. Members of Yale’s Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity wore T-shirts emblazoned with the slogan “Taliban man, go home!” for their year-end TANG competition this spring.
Taylor said that while he does not know what Hashemi’s decision will be, he would guess that Hashemi may remain with his family rather than return to Yale.
“I don’t know what he thinks, though I’m not sure he’ll want to bother with further classes if he can’t get a degree,” Taylor said.
Taylor, who has been critical of Yale’s decision to allow Hashemi on campus from the start, said Yale likely felt the pressure of the building dissent about Hashemi’s presence at Yale.
“I think Yale was concerned about reaction from alumni and from donors, but also for its national reputation, which had suffered greatly because of their decision to admit Hashemi,” he said.
Fahad Khan ’07, a friend of Hashemi’s, said he was “disappointed and shocked” by the decision.
Khan said Hashemi deserved to get in to the Eli Whitney program based on his academic merits.
“[The decision] is clearly due to the controversy generated and the pressure from certain alums,” he said. “Technically and principally, the decision should only have been based on his academic performance, which has been better than most Yale students’.”
Hashemi is spending the summer with his wife and two children in Afghanistan and Pakistan, International Education Foundation founder Mike Hoover said last week. The foundation financially supported Hashemi’s education.