Volume 92, Issue 72

Thursday, February 4, 1999


Editorial Board 1998-99

There's no honour in "honor"

Editorial Cartoon

There's no honour in "honor"

It's the day every university student works toward. Each Mustang spends three or four long years writing hundreds of essay pages and circling thousands of multiple choice answers to receive one piece of paper on graduation day, which is supposed to symbolize the entire academic experience.

If at the beginning of the convocation ceremonies the crowd was asked to stand and sing "The Star Spangled Banner," it may strike some as odd – and so it should. "The Star Spangled Banner" is the American national anthem. "Oh Canada" is the Canadian one. Such a scenario would never happen, because of the obvious distinction between the two.

So why is it when honour students look down at their cherished diploma they see the American spelling of the word "honour," without the "U?"

The issue was addressed at a University Senate meeting in May of 1997, where it was decided to leave the Americanized spelling on the diplomas, simply because that's the way it has always appeared on university documents. In other words, it would be too much trouble to change.

To substitute laziness for national pride is a huge black mark on our university. In fact, it's similar to the large red "X" Western professors use when correcting the American spelling of words in essays. If the Canadian standard is what is taught in our lecture rooms, receiving a diploma which doesn't follow the same philosophy cheapens the whole educational experience.

Earlier this year, The Canadian Press changed its policy and now the organization only adheres to the Canadian spelling of words. All other universities in the province award degrees with the Canadian version of the word "honour." It seems Western is one of the few Canadian institutions still honouring the American spelling of the word.

Perhaps when creating the diplomas, the spell check program used was American and cited its spelling as wrong. Whatever the cause, the result is a certificate representative of Americanism, instead of a Canadian education.

To simplify the matter, consider this. Just as one would not sing another country's national anthem at an important event, one wouldn't present a diploma written in Spanish to someone graduating from a French university.

Canada is not America. Western should take pride in our country's heritage and take the time to hit one more letter on the keyboard.

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Copyright The Gazette 1999