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Ebola: Two Nigerian Students Discriminated Against By US School, Says CANAN

Two Nigerian students who applied for college education in a Texas school have been reportedly denied admission because of Ebola.

According to news reports, Navarro College wrote to the students that they could not be admitted because Nigeria is one of the countries where there has been an outbreak of the Ebola virus.

Christian Association of Nigerian-Americans, CANAN, (with two vibrant chapters in the state of Texas-Dallas and Houston-) is concerned that a college in the United States of America would act in such an ignorant and uninformed manner.

According to the denial letter written to the students “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.”

It is truly confounding that an academic institution expected to reflect the finer mettle of truth and the lofty scruples of learning have now acted below the common standards of verity.

Not only is the decision of Navarro College meaningless in the effort to deal with what has become a global public health challenge, which the Ebola virus is indeed posing, but it also runs directly contradictory to the facts of the outbreak in Nigeria.

The World Health Organization, WHO had said earlier this week that in a matter of days, Nigeria would be declared Ebola free since by then 42 days would have passed without a new case of Ebola. (Incubation is 21 days, but WHO decided to take an abundance of caution.)

Besides, what has become well known in the past couple weeks is that the management and control of the outbreak of Ebola in Nigeria has earned the country praise not only from the US government including directly from the White House, but also from the United Nations.

US based and international media have confirmed how well the disease has been brought under effective control in Nigeria. This includes articles published in the New York Times and Washington Post.

Only yesterday the Daily Beast reported thus on this curious and intriguing policy of Navarro College:

“Nigeria, it seems, is an odd place to enact that policy. The country of 174 million has only registered 20 total cases of Ebola since the index patient in July, a response so strikingly effective that the CDC dispatched a team to the country to study their methods.

Already through the first 21-day incubation period following the initial cases, the country is now just five days away from being officially declared by the World Health Organization as Ebola-free. Much of the response is believed to center around what WHO has declared “world-class epidemiological detective work,” which traced all 20 cases back to one passenger at the Lagos airport—ironically, an American.

Unlike its three most affected neighboring countries, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea, citizens in Nigeria are under no threat of becoming infected with the disease within their borders, or at least no more than the threat we face in our country—and definitely not as much risk as an institution merely minutes away from its own outbreak.”

In any case, what is the use of denying the academic ambitions of two young people who are coming from a town in Nigeria where the virus has not been reported? The cases of Ebola that happened in Nigeria were in Lagos and Port Harcourt. And they have been controlled more than a month ago, with no new cases.

The two students denied admission by Navarro are not even based in either of the two states of Lagos and Rivers in Nigeria, and have never travelled out to the countries where the virus is currently rampaging in West Africa.

CANAN, like all other groups and people of goodwill here in America are concerned about the outbreak of Ebola in America and will support the federal, state and local authorities in this country in implementing common sense public health interventions to deal with the situation.

However, denying international students merely because they come from Nigeria or anywhere from Africa is a disingenuous approach and the purveyors of such an approach should be ashamed of themselves, especially being an institution of learning. Such inane policy as that of Navarro College in this matter should be discouraged, as they are capable of provoking bigoted and racist responses to what is truly a global challenge.

We call on Navarro College President, Dr. Barbara Kavalier to save the name of the institution and reverse this situation before too long. A school that is supported by the State of Texas should not be guilty of racism and uninformed oafishness!

Previous excuses that the college is merely focusing on admitting international students this time around only from China and Indonesia are fruitless attempts to further becloud the school’s lame-brained decision to deny those students admissions.

LAOLU AKANDE, Executive Director, CANAN

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