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March 13, 2006
Yale's Response To Alumni Critics: 'Retarded'?

John Fund wrote about the former Taliban official now enrolled at Yale, Sayed Ramatullah Hashemi, last week in an article critical of Yale's admission of the Islamist. After Fund wrote about the subject, others openly criticized Yale for its acceptance of a man who participated in one of the most brutally oppressive governments in recent history, and some of those critics are alumni of Yale. In response, Yale Law School's assistant director of giving (which means, in the Orwellian lingo of academia, receiving) sent an e-mail to two alumni asking them if they had suffered brain damage:

Mr. Surovov, a Yale alumnus who has worked in its development office for three years and is on the board of the Yale Club of New Haven, wrote Mr. Taylor and Ms. Bookstaber at their private email addresses with the subject heading: "Y [sic] do you hate Yale." Here is his email in its entirety: "What is wrong with you? Are you retarded? This is the most disgraceful alumni article that I have ever read in my life. You failed to mention that you've never contributed to the Yale Alumni Fund in your life. But to suggest that others follow your negative example is disgusting."

Intrigued that someone had looked up his wife's giving record, David Bookstaber, a Yale computer science graduate, used Columbia's publicly accessible IT account database to trace the anonymous email. The trail led straight to Mr. Surovov's Yale office. On Thursday Mr. Taylor phoned Mr. Suvarov, who told him he was angry because the furor over the Taliban official was hurting fund raising and could lower Yale's rankings in the next U.S. News & World Report college survey. He also accused Mr. Taylor and Ms. Bookstaber of "terrorist tactics," which when challenged he amended to "terror tactics."

I called Mr. Surovov Friday morning for a candid 30-minute conversation. Why had he sent his blistering attack anonymously? "I'm not sure," he replied. But he nonetheless stood by a subsequent email he had sent Mr. Taylor using his own name in which he said "I regret nothing" about his previous attack. He did reluctantly concede to me he had made "a poor choice" of one word--"retarded." When asked if a day earlier he had verbally accused Mr. Taylor of "terror tactics" he paused for several seconds and said "I don't recall." He did tell me he viewed their protest as "a reactionary stunt."

I suppose the use of that term might be fair, since most of us believe that Yale's admissions department suffers from moral retardation in this case. It seems rather revealing that Alex Surorov would send such a barely-literate screed anonymously, which is an admission that no one wants to stand by Yale's decision. Instead of arguing the facts, Surovov descended into schoolyard namecalling, an interesting bit of information about the culture at Yale, as indicated by his employment there. Surovov cheerfully admits that his primary concern as the assistant director of giving is to keep the flow of money coming into Yale and its law school. He apparently isn't above intimidation to ensure his pipeline of cash, either.

Even better, Surovov claims to only have a vague awareness of the Taliban and its policies. It could be true that Yale exists on some existential plane that separated from reality in the 1990s, but otherwise, this admission is so embarrassing to the Ivy League institution as to shame everyone associated with it. Has Surovov and Yale been under a complete ban of information for the past twelve years? It's bad enough that many high-school graduates can't identify Afghanistan on a map, but this is ridiculous.

Read Fund's entire essay. If Surovov still works at Yale by the end of the month, I'd be surprised, and Yale should be humiliated.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at March 13, 2006 6:57 AM

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