The media got this “Ebola rejection letter” story all wrong

You may have already seen the headline: “Texas College Turns Down African Students Over Ebola“.  If not, here’s what went down:

CNBC spoke with Kamorudeen Abidogun, a Texas resident who had five relatives from his native Nigeria apply to [Navarro College] and use his home address for mailing purposes. “I received, last weekend, two rejection letters,” explains Abidogun, “saying the reason why they were not giving admission was … Ebola.”

Except that’s wrong. They weren’t denied admission because of Ebola. Sure, that’s what the headline claims, too —  “Texas College Turns Down African Students Over Ebola“.

But compare that to the published text of the rejection letter:

“With sincere regret, I must report 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.”

The operative word in that rejection letter isn’t “Ebola”; it’s “international.” Take that word out of the sentence, and Navarro College would be left with no student body: at least 98.8% of enrolled students in 2013 (see page 52) hail from a country with confirmed Ebola cases: the United States. And even if you were to finally grant Texas its long-sought independence, that would only lower the number to 97.3%.

The headlines have it all wrong. This story isn’t about Ebola at all.

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