Plaque removed after national controversy

Melissa Weigel

After a flurry of national controversy, the plaque dedicating a new study alcove in Falvey Library to the late University professor Dr. Mine Ener was removed on Jan. 31.

A press release by Barbara Clement of the Communications and Public Affairs office announced the removal. According to this document, “At no time did the University nor anyone associated with the University intend to devalue the sanctity of life.  However, we have concluded that the ad hoc committee should have consulted with a variety of constituencies within the University community, and then clearly communicated their intentions.” Instead, the University, led by the College of Nursing, will host a symposium focusing specifically on postpartum depression and psychosis.

The debate over the memorial began after the committee that decided to make the plaque e-mailed the students and faculty to announce the ceremony that would unveil the area dedicated to Ener’s memory. Little information about the reasons for the memorial was given in the e-mail.

“I think they should have let students and faculty voice their opinion before they put it up,” junior John O’Sullivan said. “It looks bad to have to take it down one week later.”

Many students, alumni and even those outside the University community responded to the memorial with dismay and anger.

Some compared it to the naming of the Pavilion in honor of John E. DuPont III, whose name was removed after he murdered an Olympic wrestler training at the University.

“I just think they should have thought more about the way they were honoring her,” junior Katie Nestor said. “I’m sure she was a great professor, but they could have done other things, like donating to a postpartum depression or Down’s Syndrome foundation.”

The debate show “The O’Reilly Factor” featured the story on a segment on Jan. 25. Host Bill O’Reilly argued against the plaque, saying it honored a murderer; a University alumna defended the decision to create the memorial, saying it was in line with the Augustinian tradition of the University, whose philosophy Ener epitomized as a professor.

Other news organizations, including the Philadelphia Inquirer, also ran stories about the memorial.

Ener, a professor of Middle Eastern studies at the University for eight years, killed her infant daughter, who had Down’s Syndrome and had to have a feeding tube, in August 2003. While in jail awaiting her trial, she killed herself. According to those close to her, she was suffering from postpartum psychosis.