Yale Denies Admission to Former Taliban Ambassador Amid Controversy

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A former Taliban ambassador whose enrollment as a nontraditional student at Yale University sparked controversy has been denied admission to a degree-granting program at the prestigious university, a supporter said.

Sayed Rahmatullah Hashemi, who had been studying in a special program that does not award degrees, became the topic of debate after a New York Times Magazine story in February described his life at the Ivy League school.

Supporters said the school was promoting understanding across cultures. But critics, including some alumni, were aghast that Yale would open its gates to someone who represented a repressive regime that harbored Al Qaeda.

Students in Hashemi's program are eligible to apply for admission to the Eli Whitney Program, which awards the same bachelor's degrees received each spring by Yale undergraduates.

Tatiana Maxwell, president of the International Education Foundation, which raised money and helped send Hashemi to Yale, said he had informed her that he had been denied admission, The New York Times reported Thursday.

Yale spokesman Tom Conroy would not confirm that decision. The school does not release the names of applicants who are accepted or rejected.

Maxwell was traveling out of the country Thursday. Messages left on her cell phone and with other members of the International Education Foundation were not immediately returned.

The debate over whether Hashemi should have been admitted to Yale in the first place played out on editorial pages and Web logs and in letters to the editor of the Yale Alumni Magazine.

One small group of alumni urged people to mail fake fingernails to Yale officials, a reference to the Taliban's threat to pull out the fingernails of women who wore nail polish.

Amid the debate, Yale President Richard C. Levin ordered a review of the admission standards for the Eli Whitney Program and said its standards should be as rigorous as those for regular undergraduates.

The university said Thursday that two of the 29 people who applied to the program this year were admitted.