Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

West African Admissions Unaffected by Ebola Outbreak

Despite the travel policies put in place by the Office of Risk Management prohibiting university-sponsored travel to Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone in light of the outbreak of the Ebola virus, the Office of Undergraduate Admissions will not implement regulations on international student admissions from Central and West Africa.

Kathryn Timlin, associate director of admissions for the Africa, Europe, Middle East, Central Asia and Russia regions, said that since students would not arrive on campus until next fall, it is unlikely that international student admissions would be affected by the Ebola outbreak.

“As of now, we have no policy. It does not have an immediate impact,” Timlin said. “Because we’re recruiting for the fall of 2015 at this point, we’re 10 months or so away to worry about a student from anywhere, including [Western] Africa, coming to Georgetown and whether that would be perceived as an issue for our office to tackle.”

Historically, the number of applications from the region affected by Ebola has been low.

“We receive applications throughout the African continent, but the countries that are in question … are not producers of many international students,” Timlin said. “If we do end up admitting a student from that region who ends up being infected, that would be something that we would tackle from the provost’s office.”

The Office of Risk Management issued an updated visitor policy last week to apply the university entering campus.

Yohe added that admitted students who may have been at risk of exposure to Ebola would also undergo risk assessment.

“Our recently communicated visitors policy extends to all visitors, who within the last month have been in a country that is subject to a Level 3 CDC travel warning. This would include any visitors that would come to campus through the admissions process,” Yohe wrote in an email to The Hoya.

Additionally, although admissions officers travel to various regions to represent Georgetown, the travel restrictions did not affect recruitment efforts, as no plans existed to visit Central or West Africa.

“We have no planned travel to that part of the world, so it does not affect where we do or do not visit prospective students,” Timlin said. “With the admissions travel season wrapping up, there hasn’t been any worry over this.”

Earlier this month, CNBC reported Navarro College in Texas had not admitted at least two Nigerian applicants because of Nigeria’s history with Ebola. The two-year community college sent its applicants rejection letters that said that “Navarro College is not accepting international students from countries with confirmed Ebola cases,” according to The Washington Post. The college has since issued an apology.

Allan Goodman, president and CEO of the Institute of International Education, a nonprofit organization that promotes worldwide access to education and administers the Fulbright Program, warned against placing restrictions on admitting students from Africa.

“While each campus will need to set their own policies on admissions and study or research abroad based on the latest advice from national and local experts, we encourage campus leaders to ensure that their policies do not unnecessarily restrict the welcoming of students and scholars from Africa,” Goodman wrote in an email to The Hoya.

Goodman pointed to previous crises that did not affect admissions processes, emphasizing the diversity of experience offered by international students.

“American higher education has shown through repeated crises, whether terrorism, disease or natural disasters, that we want to keep our doors open,” Goodman wrote. “This reflects our enduring values and the benefits that foreign students bring to our campuses.”

Vice President of the African Society at Georgetown Naa Adjeley (SFS ’16), who was born and grew up in Ghana, agreed that admissions restrictions caused by the Ebola crisis would be problematic and worried that even without an explicit policy, admissions officers might subconsciously choose not to admit a qualified student.

“In terms of admissions, I think Georgetown would have a hard time deciding whether or not to admit a brilliant Liberian applicant. The copout for Georgetown is that we already have too few Africans to start with, so Georgetown’s decision to refuse a West African student would go unnoticed,” she said.

In light of the travel restrictions and updated visitor policy from Georgetown, combined with national worries about the disease, Adjeley said she saw a worrisome trend in American reactions to Ebola.

“I think that just based on what we’ve observed over the past few weeks, Americans have begun to grow a strong sense of Afro-phobia,” Adjeley said. “I, for one, have not been back to Ghana since the summer of 2013, and was hoping to go to Ghana this Christmas to be with my family, but I’ve had to cancel my ticket for fear of being harassed both at airports and when I’m back here on campus. I suspect that I’d be asked to quarantine myself for 30 days, whether or not Ghana would have had Ebola by then.”

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