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UC Berkeley Reaction to Fears About SARS

May 11, 2003

UC Berkeley's decision to bar summer students from certain Asian countries is misguided and hints of racism (May 6). It claims the decision is based on logistical deficiencies, but the truth is that it was based entirely on media-fed fear.

The assertion that the university would have to take on the role of Big Brother and monitor these 500 or so students is absurd and implies that not only are all of these students at risk of SARS but that the incompetence of the Asian countries, the World Health Organization, the airlines, the U.S. Customs Service and the students themselves renders them unable to recognize the symptoms and impose their own quarantines. Both ideas are somewhat silly. This was a sledgehammer solution to a scalpel problem. Berkeley is supposed to be an institution of higher learning. But in this instance, it has only taught us that it is just as susceptible to irrational acts as the rest of us.

Cameron Lee

Redondo Beach

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