Ivory Towers 10-01-08

The student who duped the Ivy League

Having been expelled from Yale University last summer for forging his transfer application, Akash Maharaj plead guilty to larceny two weeks ago. Maharaj now owes Yale $31,750 for financial aid and must complete 250 hours of community service.

When applying for transfer from Columbia to Yale in 2006, Akash managed to impress Yale admissions with a transcript “boasting 18 rigorous courses with perfect A’s in each – and a glowing recommendation from a Slavic languages professor,” reported the Yale Daily News. The administration never noticed that anything was amiss until a year later when Maharaj’s ex-boyfriend reported to Dean Rosalinda Garcia that Maharaj had lied about his identity and age. Investigating this claim led the school to discovering all the other discrepancies.

Although Maharaj claimed he had attended Columbia from fall 2003 until spring 2005, took a medical leave in fall 2005 and spent the spring 2006 semester performing volunteer relief work in Sri Lanka, Columbia’s records show that he attended from fall 2004 to spring 2006. The courses and grades on the transcript submitted with his application also did not match. Yale’s investigation also discovered that his letter of recommendation was neither written nor provided by professor Valentina Izmirilieva as Maharaj had claimed.

Kicked out of Yale in 2007, Maharaj this September took a plea offer in court. He now faces five years of probation during which he must pay Yale over $31,000 for the financial aid he stole or serve three years in jail.

Yale Daily News

Board bars illegal immigrants from junior colleges

Alabama’s Board of Education passed a new policy last Thursday that denies illegal immigrants admission to the state’s two-year colleges. The vote was passed 4-0 with one abstention and four board members absent.

Starting next spring, Alabama’s community college applicants must present some form of American identification, with international students providing a U.S. visa, school transcript and “proof of adequate financial support.”

Raul Gonzalez, director of legislative affairs for the National Council of La Raza advocacy group, called Alabama’s actions “troubling.” Recognizing that the same documents are needed for employment, Gonzalez said that “officials should be realistic – the bottom line is people will find jobs.”

Whether or not the board’s legislation will have any real effect on the people of Alabama remains to be seen, but board Chancellor Bradley Byrne seems optimistic. “For 90 percent or more of our students, all that’s going to mean is they give them their driver’s license,” he said.


Compiled by Tom Casserly, Contributing Writer.

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