The New York Times is reporting this morning that Yale University has rejected the application of a former Taliban official who wanted to move from a non-degree program to a degree program.
The presence of the student -- since it was revealed in a profile in The New York Times Magazine -- has set off a debate (much of it off campus) over whether the university should have admitted him even to a non-degree program. According to the Times, Sayed Rahmatullah Hashemi, the student, can continue to take courses as a non-degree student.
Yale has consistently declined to comment publicly about Hashemi's application, citing requirements to keep such information confidential. After the story broke about Hashemi's participation in a Yale program, the university released a statement noting that he had all of the proper visas and appealing for critics to consider the possible benefits to society of having such a student enrolled. "We acknowledge that some are criticizing Yale for allowing Mr. Hashemi to take courses here, but we hope that critics will also acknowledge that universities are places that must strive to increase understanding," the statement said.
The Times reported that Yale officials said that they had made it more difficult generally this year for students to transfer from the non-degree program Hashemi enrolled in to degree-granting programs.
The debate over Hashemi at Yale took place this spring at a time that tensions over the Middle East have roiled many American campuses. At Yale, the debates took place as the university was considering Hashemi's application for admission and the candidacy of Juan Cole, a prominent professor of Middle Eastern studies at the University of Michigan, for a post at Yale. Despite departmental backing, Cole's bid was turned down.
Conservative bloggers and commentators wrote constantly about both Cole and Hashemi, much to the consternation of Yale officials and many academics. When a variety of student and faculty leaders were interviewed by Inside Higher Ed in March, few expressed alarm about Hashemi. Several noted the value of exposing people from other countries to the values of an American education or noted that the United States deals with many ex-Taliban leaders.