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Texas College Rejects Nigerian Applicants, Citing Ebola

A small, two-year college in Texas sent at least two Nigerian students rejection letters saying they were not "accepting international students from countries with confirmed Ebola cases."

The story came to light when Idris Ayodeji Bello, a Nigerian activist and entrepreneur,tweeted a copy of a letter apparently sent by Navarro College to one of his friends:

Bloomberg, who spoke to Bello, reports:

"Issuing a blanket ban on foreign applicants from countries with confirmed Ebola cases is akin to 'racism against Nigerians and discriminating against individuals based on ignorance and misinformation,' says Bello. He's not the only one to think so: the school's rejection letters have become the subject of much ridicule on Twitter.

"Navarro College needs to educate itself on how not to act in an epidemic, says Bello, who has a master's in global health science from Oxford University. 'What if a school from New York or Boston started rejecting students from Texas? You don't discriminate in epidemics—you inform, you educate, so people are more aware of what they should do,' he adds. 'I hope other institutions learn from this.'"

Navarro College did not directly admit to sending the letters, but Tuesday, it issued a statement saying the college valued its "diverse population."

"This fall we have almost 100 students from Africa. Unfortunately, some students received incorrect information regarding their applications to the institution," the college said in a statement. "We apologize for any misinformation that may have been shared with students."

For the record, the CDC is only recommending that school clinicians be alert for symptoms from students who traveled from countries where Ebola outbreaks are occurring.

And also for the record: Nigeria has contained a small number of Ebola cases that cropped up. As the CDC puts it, the "risk for Ebola in Nigeria is currently very low."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.
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