updated 7/6/2006 7:58:57 PM ET 2006-07-06T23:58:57

A former ambassador for Afghanistan’s Taliban regime was denied admission to a degree-granting program at Yale, but he can continue studying at the school, one of his financial supporters said.

Sayed Rahmatullah Hashemi, who had been studying at Yale 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 were aghast that Yale would open its gates to the 27-year-old who once represented a repressive regime that harbored al-Qaida.

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 that Hashemi had informed her that he’d 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 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.

Press-on nails in protest
One small group of alumni urged people to mail press-on nails to Yale officials, a reference to the Taliban’s threat to pull out the fingernails of women who wore nail polish.

“This was a major victory,” said Clint Taylor, a 1996 Yale graduate whose Web log originated the nail campaign. “I think Yale made the right decision. It’s a shame they had to do it under so much pressure.”

Fahad Khan, an incoming Yale senior who knows Hashemi, said he was unaware of the decision but said it was a shame if he was not admitted. He said having Hashemi at Yale is important “at a time when bridges need to be built.”

“If true, it is clearly because of the controversy,” Khan said in an e-mail to The Associated Press. “His academic performance, which was supposed to be the only determinant, has been better than most students at Yale.”

Amid the debate spurred by Hashemi’s enrollment, 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.

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