Archived: Ebola-Related Discrimination on Texas College Campus

By Julissa Catalan

A Texas community college will not admit international applicants if their country of origin has “confirmed Ebola cases,” even if the individuals are not at risk of being infected with the disease.

Navarro Collegea community college 20 miles outside of Dallasissued multiple rejection letters to applicants with a home address in Nigeria.

According to Dr. Kamor Abidohgunan African entrepreneur based out of Houston with a master’s degree in global health from Oxford Universityhis 29-year-old brother-in-law as well as his 20-year-old nephew both received identical letters stating:

“With sincere regret, I must regret that Navarro College is not able to offer you acceptance for the Spring 2015 term. Unfortunately, Navarro College is not accepting international students from countries with confirmed Ebola cases. ”

Nigeria has a population of 174 million, and only a total of 20 registered cases of Ebola since the first documented case in July.

All 20 cases have been traced back to a Liberian air traveler.

In fact, Nigeria’s methods have been considered so effective that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently dispatched a team to West Africa to study the country’s techniqueswhich include a preliminary 21-day incubation period.

Nigeria is expected to be declared Ebola-free on Monday by the World Health Organization (WHO) following the mandatory 42-day surveillance of new cases.

The WHO calls this “world-class epidemiological detective work.”

Out of all the affected West African counties, Nigeria poses the least amount of threat for infection. Currently Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone are the three most affected countries.

The men both live in Ibadan, Oyo Statenowhere near the Ebola outbreak. Neither has visited any other affected West African country either.

Idris Bello, a Nigerian-American friend of Dr. Abidogun’s, posted a copy of the rejection letter on his website. Soon, many of his followers took to Twitter to voice their frustration with this misguided move.

“I understand the fear about Ebola, but we’re not going to tackle epidemics by being scared off by misinformation. It’s going to be true education,” says Bello. “They are teaching students to be leaders in the future. Someone from that school needs to step forward and say, listen we made a mistake we are going to fix that mistake.”

Navarro College backtracked in a statement to the Daily Beast after the website originally published this story:

Our college values its diverse population of international students. This fall we have almost 100 students from Africa. Unfortunately, some students received incorrect information regarding their applications to the institution. As part of our new honor’s program, the college restructured the international department to include focused recruitment from certain countries each year. Our focus for 2014-15 is on China and Indonesia. Other countries will be identified and recruitment efforts put in place once we launch our new honors program fall 2015. We apologize for any misinformation that may have been shared with students. Additional information regarding our progress with this new initiative will be posted on our website.

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