Americans who read the New York
Times must have wrinkled their brows in puzzlement after reading the
February 26, 2006 article about a former government official and
spokesman for the Taliban walking the campus of Yale University as a
Sayed Rahmatullah Hashemi has been granted special student status and
the state department has awarded him entry into the United States on
a student visa. This is an interesting turn of events for a person
who could just as easily have ended up as a guest of the United
States in a cell at Guantanamo Bay.
Prior to his arrival as a student, Rahmatullah had been imprisoned at
Bagram Air Base. He had been a member of the Taliban government,
serving both in Afghanistan and in the United States as Second
Foreign Secretary and Ambassador-at-Large.
What the New York Times article fails to address is the rationale
behind even allowing this individual into the United States, let
alone as an International Student at a prestigious university.
Another area not addressed in this account, is why Yale, which
accepts only ten percent of all applicants, granted admission to this
former Taliban officer.
Sayed Rahmatullah Hashemi is said to have a fourth grade education
and has passed a high school equivalency examination. He does speak
acceptable English. This, however, does not meet any of the
requirements Yale has listed for its International Students accepted
for Special Programs.
According to the College Board, Yale requires all foreign students to
score in the 700 to 790 range on both the SAT verbal and math tests.
International students must also score 600 on the TOEFL exam and 250
on a computer exam. In addition, Yale states in its admission policy
that those students enrolled in special programs must fund their own
education and a Foreign Student Certification of Finances must be filed.
These requirements may have been met by Rahmatullah, but they are
never even brought to question in the Times article. Another
unanswered question is how a former member of a now non-existent
government can cover the $31,460 Yale tuition and fees and $9,540
room and board costs.
Entry into Yale was smoothed by the intervention of CBS news
cameraman Mike Hoover who had developed a friendship with the
government official during several trips to Afghanistan, dating back
to 1991. Hoover contacted an attorney in his hometown of Jackson
Hole, Wyoming. That attorney, Bob Schuster, who had earned his
undergraduate degree at Yale, brought Rahmatullah to the attention of
Richard Shaw, the Dean of Undergraduate Admissions. An interview was
According to the Times, Shaw said of the interview, “My perception
was,’ It’s the enemy!’ But, the interview with him was one of the
most interesting I’ve ever had. I walked away with a sense: Whoa!
This is a person to be reckoned with and who could educate us about
John Fund, writing for the Opinion Journal does not view this
admission as any great achievement, even though he quotes Richard
Shaw as saying that...”another foreign student of Rahmatullah’s
caliber had applied for special student status. We lost him to
Harvard. I didn’t want that to happen again.”
Fund does not agree, saying “This is taking the obsession that U.S.
universities have been promoting diversity a bit too far.
Regardless of how he gained admission, Sayed Rahmatullah Hashemi is
now strolling across the quad at Yale University. It is said he is
doing well, earning a 3.33 grade point average. He should be scoring
even higher. One of his first courses was titled “Terrorism - Past,
Present and Future.”