Award-winning student news since 1978

The Brookhaven Courier

Award-winning student news since 1978

The Brookhaven Courier

Award-winning student news since 1978

The Brookhaven Courier

Texas college refuses admission on Ebola fear

By Rochelle Ware

Staff Writer


“Ebola Racism Reaches a New Low in Texas.” This hyperbolic headline and article appeared in The Daily Beast Oct. 15. Sadly, it misses the mark and dilutes the debate for a legitimate case of racism. Ebola is scary. With few exceptions, U.S. healthcare facilities were unprepared for the first case on American soil. And officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention initially responded with the competency of the Keystone Cops – who undoubtedly would have done a better job. So, at least for the short term, seemingly discriminatory, drastic policies may be the norm until solid procedures for handling Ebola cases for the entire country are established.

Administrators at Navarro College, a small community college outside of Dallas, decided to deny admission to international students from countries with confirmed Ebola cases for the spring 2015 semester. At first glance, this is an extreme response. It appears to be discriminatory – possibly even “racist” – until you replay the missteps surrounding the case of Thomas Eric Duncan, the first Ebola case on U.S. soil.

The absolute truth of what Duncan knew and believed about his exposure to the virus likely died with him. However, based on the outcome, it is fair to assume that he threw honesty, integrity and common sense to the wind. He lied on the forms at the Liberian airport and boarded a plane headed toward the cure, according to an article written by Benjamin Hale for

The only possible argument for Duncan not thinking he was sick is that he would not knowingly expose his immediate family to the deadly virus. Duncan’s irresponsible behavior in lying and the initial bungling of his case by Texas Presbyterian Hospital and the CDC call for drastic policy changes to protect the public.

While following his story I felt a wide range of emotions, from confusion and disbelief to anger and even a little fear. Could it be that the entire world, which in the 21st century is borderless, was relying on the honor system to contain this deadly virus? Really? Did anyone seriously believe that eventually some panicked individual would not lie to get to the U.S. for treatment, especially since the world saw that we had a magic healing potion? Surely not.

Historically, the face of Ebola is African, black, poor and distant. According to the World Health Organization, the first known human cases of Ebola occurred in 1976, with two simultaneous outbreaks in Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The CDC website indicates that the 2014 outbreak in West Africa is the largest in history, with over 10,000 reported cases and more than 4,500 deaths. The fact that thousands of Africans died from this virus with no hint of a cure until two American medical professionals became infected is not insignificant.Could that be Ebola racism? Maybe.

The new face of Ebola is international and multi-racial. Deaths are race-neutral. People in the U.S. are begging for the institution of effective policies to handle potential Ebola cases – including a ban on travel to and from the affected countries, quarantine and monitoring procedures. With the CDC’s slow response and public panic on the rise, institutions such as Navarro College are enacting drastic policies such as temporarily closing enrollment to students from affected countries.

Maybe these students will travel to visit relatives over the holidays. Maybe relatives will visit them. When they return, who will be responsible for finding out whether they were exposed to anyone with Ebola? Who will monitor them?

Without clear guidelines in place from the authorities, the simplest answer is to minimize the possibility and potential impact. It is unfortunate that innocent people were adversely affected by the decision, and you can argue its merits based on likely effectiveness. But the college probably would have enacted the same policy had the origin of the virus been anywhere else in the world.

Then, instead of “Ebola Racism Reaches a New Low in Texas,” the headline might read, “Navarro College Takes Drastic Measures to Fight Ebola.” It is still attentiongrabbing, and it is more accurate. The author of the article is well-intentioned in her attempt to expose a perceived injustice and all for calling out racism when it exists. But this is not.


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