This letter is in response to an op-ed from the March 1, 2017 issue of the Spectator.
May I offer an opinion on an opinion? Joseph Richter, in his March 1, 2017 op-ed “Eating on Campus with a Visual Impairment” submitted not only a finely crafted piece of writing, but makes a good point. As an Academic English instructor in the English Language and Culture Bridge, I see a lot of good and bad writing, and Joseph’s most definitely falls into the former. I would like to take his premise one step further by suggesting it is not only visually impaired students with an appetite that suffer. From my work with international students and my experience as a Fulbright Scholar in a country in which I had only a rudimentary knowledge of the language, I submit that international students could also benefit by some of Joseph’s suggestions about menu accommodation. For example, if students want to order something, but they don’t know what it is called, neither filling out an order slip nor asking for it by name are options. As I have learned from class discussions and skits (and know from personal experience), “point and grunt” is the only way for many internationals students to try and get their desired item. Sometimes it works; sometimes we just eat it anyway. Initially, I was shocked; unlike my experience in Belarus, these are students proficient enough to take academic coursework in a second language. Even so, they frequently are left frustrated (and hungry) at lunchtime. Joseph offered some good solutions, and I’d like to second them. Perhaps nothing can be done about the layout of Cherry Street Market, but many of his ideas, especially providing on-line menus, would help to further SU’s goal of being more inclusive. Stomachs deserve social justice too.
Heidi A. Beck, MA
English Language Learning Center