English-Only Bookstore Stirs up Controversy in New Haven

By John Christoffersen, Associated Press
via CNSNews.com
January 22, 2010

New Haven, Conn. (AP) – A popular bookstore and cafe near Yale University wants its many Hispanic employees to speak English only around customers, sparking controversy in immigrant-friendly New Haven, where students fight for immigrant rights.

Atticus Bookstore and Cafe recently issued a policy stating that English should be the only language spoken on the floor and behind the counter. “Spanish is allowed in the prep area, the dishwasher area and the lower level. Let’s make our customers feel welcome and comfortable,” the policy states, according to New Haven Workers Association, a group of activists who said employees gave them a copy.

“I’m really appalled,” said Tim Stewart-Winter, a Yale lecturer. “As a New Haven resident and member of the Yale community, I think diversity is a strength of this country.”

Stewart-Winter said he likes to take out-of-town guests to Atticus, but may not now because of the policy.

Bridget Pierpont, a 40-year-old New Haven resident, said she was texting a friend as she passed Atticus on Thursday suggesting they no longer go to the bookstore because of the language policy.

“Frankly, I think that’s part of the charm of this place,” Pierpont said. “I think they should absolutely be able to speak Spanish here.”

Atticus owner Charles Negaro issued a statement saying his business appreciates and accepts all languages and offers free English language classes to employees.

“We encourage the use of English because it’s an appropriate way to be most helpful to our customers,” Negaro said. “To continue to provide the best service possible, we try to help those employees who speak English as a second language by helping them improve their use of English.”

The article continues at CNSNews.com

Comments are closed.