Editorial: Look past the ugly headlines

No one reading these words could possibly imagine what Dr. Mine An Ener’s life must have been like over the past six months.

Ener herself might have been able to lend some insight into this. But now she is dead, and whomever you choose to blame – an unsympathetic judge, a lawyer afraid his client might appear unstable, a guard who didn’t perform a complete check-up of Ener at the proper time, a system that afforded a woman who tried to commit suicide the chance to do so – that one thing remains constant. Her life was transformed into a hell none could imagine.

A lot of people, sadly, will continue to look only at the headlines of the terrible stories of Ener’s saga. They read stories about postpartum depression, her arrest for the murder of her daughter, and her likely suicide and instantly condemn a woman who truly made an impact on the University, both in terms of her scholarship and her caring.

Her paper trail reads like any other professor’s resume might – books written, degrees earned, presentations delivered. But what made Ener a remarkable person was her relationships with students and faculty, more than anything she ever published. Students and faculty who have talked to The Villanovan both on and off the record have spoken highly of her kindness, personal attention and willingness to work. Those who knew her best have spoken of her love not only of working and researching, but also of her desire to help others in their own scholarly pursuits.

The subject matter in which Ener specialized, the history of charity and poverty in the Middle East, is one that will doubtlessly suffer in her absence. Not only has the Center for Arab and Islamic Studies been left without its devoted leader, but scholarship on such a timely, relevant topic has also lost its most dedicated voice at the University.

Dr. Adele Lindenmeyr, the chairperson of the history department, probably said it best when she remarked that it would take a great tragedian, an intrepid explorer of the human soul to understand what Ener must have gone through in the past month. But it takes no such intellectual giant to understand that terrible things happen to the best of people, and sometimes at the worst possible times. Remember Mine not by the headlines detailing her struggle with a terrible, oft-misunderstood condition, but as the woman who put others first, who lived to teach and help others and whose unique impact on Villanova will not soon be seen again.