Opinions

Grabbing a bilingual bite difficult at the U of O

THERE SEEM TO be two schools of anglophones at the University of Ottawa: That which takes issue with our school’s bilingual agenda and that which doesn’t.

Personally, I’ve always considered myself to belong to the latter group. I’m content to listen through French messages first, and I won’t complain if I have to scroll down an extra page or so to get to my English message.

As a non-bilingual student of a self-proclaimed bilingual university, I’ve frankly always been proud of the strong language culture that surrounds me. Until I tried to buy a sandwich, that is.

I think all signage should be written in both languages. I don’t think that’s too much to ask. With dual-language signage, French speakers can read in their native tongue, English speakers can understand just as easily, and bilinguals can take their pick. Everybody wins, right?

Clearly this demand is just too over the top for our campus Quiznos. Despite the obvious need for both official languages to appear on their signage, the sandwich shop has chosen to have theirs exclusively in French.

Call me crazy, but I think it’s important for students to be able to make informed choices about what they eat. We live in a world where food allergies are a dime a dozen, and with a campus chock full of exclusively anglophone students, French-only food signs are unacceptable.

I don’t care where you put the English information, and I could not care less about what size the font is; all I want is to know is what’s on my damn sandwich without having to worry about my throat closing up.

I shouldn’t have to grapple with  francophone food workers and hold up the line for 15 minutes just to find out what I’m eating. I don’t understand why, for one restaurant, this is too much to ask.

Safety concerns aside, it’s disrespectful to English-only students on our campus to exclude the language entirely from any signage. If we can put so much effort into ensuring a strong French presence on campus, we should at least do the same for our other national language. This is Canada’s bilingual university, after all. I’m not asking for any special treatment here, just for a little bit of equality at lunchtime.

—Jaclyn Lytle