A Welsh student studying at Oxford has accused staff at the White Rabbit of xenophobia.
The student alleges that staff refused to serve him after they deemed his ID (a Welsh provisional drivers license) to be fake.
Since the Welsh language is an official language of Wales, Welsh driving licenses are bilingual. Staff allegedly took an ‘LD’ symbol on the driving license to be a sign of its inauthenticity, refusing to accept that ‘D’ stood for ‘dysgwr,’ meaning learner in Welsh.
Bar staff initially refused to serve him, using an article from WalesOnline to ‘prove’ that the student’s ID was fake, though the student later read the article and found it was not suggestive of his ID being fake.
the student spoke to the general manager and explained the situation. According to the student, “The general manager didn’t seem to believe that the Welsh writing on my card was genuinely a language; he had me translate it for him and refused to take me seriously even after I had translated every word.”
The White Rabbit’s general manager eventually agreed to serve him, and another Welsh friend whose license had been deemed fake. However, the manager allegedly said, “that he “hopes [we’re] actually 18” yet again implying that our IDs are ingenuine.”
The student said: “I was extremely disappointed by the way my friend and I were treated at the White Rabbit. It was humiliating to have to try and prove that Welsh, my native language, is real and that it is used in an official capacity. It was distressing to not only not be taken seriously when I had done my best to explain my point of view, but also to be publicly patronised as if I was a child with a fragile ego.”
Responding to the accusations, the White Rabbit said: “The White Rabbit is an independent family-run pub in Oxford city centre and attracts a wide age range of people for our award-winning pizza and beers. As such we have to be really careful about underage drinkers and our bar staff take this very seriously as the consequences for a small business as ours could be existential. During our busiest times we ask our managers to make quick decisions about who to serve or not and we specifically train them to err on the side of caution.”
The White Rabbit did not explicitly deny the xenophobia accusations, simply saying their general manager “spoke to them, listened to their explanations and to those of the duty manager, and told them that on this occasion we would be happy to serve them. The group of students then decided to leave the bar regardless. “If we offended this group of students we would be very happy to apologise to them and would love to sit down with them to create a positive relationship going forward.”