With enhanced screening of passengers from affected areas at several major U.S. airports and an increased vigilance about stopping the domestic spread of the Ebola virus now that a second case has been diagnosed in Texas, it feels as if American officials are taking the threat of the disease seriously.
But did a two-year Texas community college take things too far? According to CNBC, a student from one of the affected African countries, Nigeria, claims that his application to Navarro College was rejected over Ebola fears.
The school, 58 miles from Dallas, the site of one Ebola death and a second diagnosed case, reportedly told Kamorudeen Abidogun that he would not be welcomed for the spring 2015 term. Abidogun is originally from Nigeria and has five relatives in Nigeria who were applying to the school using his home in Richmond, Texas, as a U.S. mailing address. He supplied CNBC with a rejection letter in which the college's international programs director, Elizabeth Pillans, informed him that "Unfortunately, Navarro College is not accepting international students from countries with confirmed Ebola cases."
Mechanical engineer Abidogun said he got not one, but two letters citing Ebola as a reason for his rejection. A fellow Nigerian who lives in East Texas, Idris Bello, tweeted out a copy of the letter to bring attention to the case.
The college, however, claims that Abidogun was not rejected over Ebola. "Our college values its diverse population of international students," Navarro's vice president for Access and Accountability, Dewayne Gregg, wrote to CNBC in an email. "This fall we have almost 100 students from Africa. Unfortunately, some students received incorrect information regarding their applications to the institution."
Despite the letter posted online citing Ebola, Gregg said the rejection came because the college restructured its honors program to focus on recruitment from China and Indonesia in 2014-2015. "Other countries will be identified and recruitment efforts put in place once we launch our new honors program fall 2015," he wrote. "We apologize for any misinformation that may have been shared with students."
When asked to specifically respond to a policy rejecting students based on Ebola in their native countries, Gregg wrote, "The prior email speaks for the college." The school's International Student Office page features a message to the overseas students about Ebola in which it states that, "The health and safety of our international and domestic students is a top priority of Navarro College and we would like to provide you with the following information regarding the Ebola virus."
The letter noted that the likelihood of contracting any viral hemorrhagic fever, including Ebola, "is considered extremely low" unless there is direct contact with bodily fluids of an infected person or animal; it does not, however, say that the school is currently rejecting applications from students from countries with confirmed Ebola cases. MTV News has reached out to Navarro for comment.