- The Washington Times - Monday, March 13, 2006

Having admitted a former spokesman of the Taliban, Yale University is worried, reports the Wall Street Journal’s John Fund. The negative reaction and disruption in alumni donations, said one Yale administrator, threatens the Ivy League university’s ranking in U.S. News & World Report’s annual college survey.

The administrator is Alexis Surovov, an alumnus who currently works at the Yale Development Office. In a heated e-mail, Mr. Surovov challenged two other alumni who have started a campaign to expose their alma mater’s acceptance of the former Taliban official. The campaign, called NailYale, is named for the Taliban’s infamous habit of tearing the fingernails out of women who wore nail polish. The two alumni, Clinton Taylor and Debbie Bookstaber, are asking their fellow Yalies to withhold their annual donations. It’s a call to arms to which Mr. Surovov wrote: “What is wrong with you? Are you retarded?”

Officially, Yale University does not think the two alumni are retarded. Mr. Surovov says he was responding not as a Yale administrator, but as a private citizen. As Mr. Fund reports, Yale’s official stance on Sayed Rahmatullah Hashemi is that, contrary to news reports, “he has not been admitted as an undergraduate to Yale College,” and is only in a “part-time program that does not award Yale degrees.” This is only partially true. As the New York Times magazine reported last month, Mr. Rahmatullah is eligible to apply for full-student status, which he has said he will do. Mr. Fund reports that the part-time program is designed so that students who enroll are already assumed to be as qualified as full-time students. Also, Mr. Rahmatullah is receiving a 35 percent to 40 percent tuition discount.

Otherwise, Yale has clammed up since the New York Times article. Mr. Fund’s phone calls to Yale’s dean of undergraduate admissions, Richard Shaw, have not been returned. As of Saturday, Yale spokesman Tom Conroy told Mr. Fund that “no official would grant an interview of any kind.” That’s another call to arms which, unfortunately, the mainstream media have not answered.

Such is the curious case of Mr. Rahmatullah’s acceptance. Aside from his Taliban ties, Mr. Rahmatullah has a fourth-grade education and a high-school equivalency degree. Although he now says he regrets his past, one must wonder if Yale would have admitted him without that past. As Mr. Shaw told the New York Times, Yale lost another foreigner of “Rahmatullah’s caliber” to Harvard, and he “didn’t want that to happen again.” This screams for a clarification from Yale.


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