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New School Says Assad Press Aide's Admission Was "Based On Merit"

A controversy squelched Sheherezad Jaafari's plans to attend Columbia.

Posted on December 3, 2012, at 2:01 p.m. ET

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's former press aide Sheherezad Jaafari is a student at The New School in New York City, according to a story in a Columbia University student publication.

Jaafari, who was accepted into Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs, never ended up enrolling there. Columbia students had demanded that the school rescind her admission, and Jaafari told the Columbia Communiqué in September that she would not attend "to avoid being harrassed."

But Jaafari's time at the New School has apparently been smooth so far. A source at the school told BuzzFeed they hadn't heard of any conflict over her admission to the program, and the Columbia Communiqué article indicates that most students don't know or don't care about her past.

"We respect the privacy of our students," said New School spokesman Sam Biederman, declining to comment on Jaafari specifically. "Any admissions decisions are based on merit."

Jaafari, the daughter of the Syrian envoy to the U.N., is reportedly a sharp dresser, favoring more "posh" clothes over the hipster garb favored by her New School colleagues.

She played a key role in facilitating the fawning and ill-timed Vogue profile of Assad's wife and got Barbara Walters to try to help her get an internship at CNN or a spot at Columbia's journalism school in return for Walters' landing an exclusive interview with Assad.

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