Abrupt announcement of Mine Ener memorial bewilders community

The email that reached all Villanova students on Jan. 17 contained a startling invitation. It called on students to attend yesterday’s dedication of the Mine Ener Memorial in a Falvey Library study lounge. Many Villanovans had not heard the late professor’s name for over a year, but nearly everyone remembers the news flurry surrounding Ener’s August 2003 death and the events that preceded it.

Ener’s story inspired shock, sadness, and disbelief. Unfortunately, the newly unveiled memorial, well-intentioned as it may be, has spread confusion throughout the Villanova community. Why? In a word, vagueness.

The e-mail was worded as casually as an invitation to an open house. It did nothing to acknowledge the emotional sensitivity concerning the memorial’s subject, nor did it anticipate the questions that would inevitably cross the mind of every student who read the email: What exactly does the committee behind the project hope to communicate through this tribute? What will the memorial consist of? And – though it’s an uncomfortable inquiry to pose – is it appropriate to construct on this campus a memorial connected with such a controversial episode?

Certainly, it’s easy to understand why the e-mail made no mention of the tragedies that occurred at the end of Ener’s life – no one wants to taint a celebration of a person by dredging up mistakes or misfortunes that don’t necessarily represent his or her legacy.

But it was irresponsible of the committee to expect a positive response from the student body without elaborating further on the memorial’s mission.

Is the memorial designed to honor Ener’s contributions to the University and insure that she is remembered for something other than scandal? Is it meant to promote awareness of postpartum depression, which may have played a role in the sad conclusion to Ener’s story? Is it simply intended to give closure to a loss that devastated Ener’s students, colleagues, friends and family? Creating and funding this project obviously required a good amount of money, energy and faith in the importance of the memorial.

Had the committee taken the time to share that faith with the student body, a far greater number of those e-mail invitations may have been gladly accepted.