UC-Berkeley Decision To Bar Students From SARS-Afflicted Countries Draws Criticism
A Chinese-American rights group and the Department of Health Services yesterday criticized a decision by the University of California-Berkeley to prohibit students from SARS-affected Asian countries from enrolling in the summer session because of fears of SARS, the San Jose Mercury News reports (Bartindale, San Jose Mercury News, 5/7). The policy, posted on the university's Web site Friday, barred students from China, Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan from studying at UC-Berkeley in the summer term because university officials said they did not have the resources to deal with a possible SARS outbreak (California Healthline, 5/6). University officials removed Singapore from the list of banned countries because the CDC removed its travel advisory to that nation, the Mercury News reports. Diane Chin, executive director of Chinese for Affirmative Action, said, "This policy excludes people from educational opportunities based only on their country of origin without any possible exceptions made for individual circumstances." Chin recommended that incoming students be monitored for symptoms for 10 days, but UC-Berkeley medical director Peter Deitrich said the campus does not have the staff to do so. Diana Bonta, director of the health department, said the policy assumes that "a large number of students from Asian countries equates to a high number of SARS cases, and that is not the case" (San Jose Mercury News, 5/7).
CDC Director Dr. Julie Gerberding said university officials are in "an unusual predicament because they are expecting an unusually large contingent of students from SARS-affected areas" and they "needed time to ensure that they had the proper measure in place to protect everyone" (Glionna/Haines, Los Angeles Times, 5/7). Gerberding said the CDC will assist the school in preparing student orientation materials regarding SARS, USA Today reports (Sternberg/Marklein, USA Today, 5/7).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.