Op-Ed

The SFUO’s Board of Administration decided against a motion to create a committee on bilingualism. Photo: Marta Kierkus.

Committee could work to benefit SFUO and student body alike

At the recent Board of Administration (BOA) meeting, the board rejected the creation of a committee to examine bilingualism within the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa (SFUO).

This was disheartening to hear, since a motion to create a committee to examine bilingualism in the SFUO is a very good idea. It’s especially important since the SFUO is supposed to represent the University of Ottawa’s policy to promote bilingualism, and all executive members should follow suit, especially since some candidates were unable to converse effectively in both English and French during last year’s debates.

That said, establishing a committee that could try and improve bilingualism in the SFUO would be a perfect way to correct this imbalance.

For example, the committee could organize special workshops for students that may need help in improving their French. Considering that there are only six executive positions, this promotion of bilingualism in the SFUO could even target individual roles.

But another method to ensure bilingualism in the SFUO is evaluating the effectiveness of standard spoken oral exam in both official languages. Considering that the committee wouldn’t have much to do besides evaluating the test of some students’ spoken English and French, this isn’t a lot to ask.

After evaluating various methods to promote bilingualism in the SFUO via surveys, the committee would be then responsible for employing the most effective technique possible.

Now coming back to the main idea, why should there be a committee on the SFUO that
promotes bilingualism? And what can be the possible downside to forming this committee?

Well, this committee should exist because more exposure to French and French culture means more opportunities to learn new vocabulary, new expressions, and to experience a cultural backdrop that wouldn’t be there otherwise.

The way I see it, there can only be two possible downsides to this committee. First of all, it may be necessary to provide extra funding to this committee for their events, and second, the executives may not have time for all the events held by the committee.

To be honest, I feel that these two negatives can easily be overcome. The promotional events done by the committee would not cost a lot, especially if the committee would target the SFUO executive specifically. Secondly, if for some reason the executives have a tight schedule, there are lots of other people on the BOA who could serve on a committee.

In conclusion, having an SFUO that is completely and fully bilingual is very significant because the student federation is supposed to represent the U of O. This is a bilingual university, and as such any effort to promote its bilingualism should be encouraged, not rejected.