February 7th, 2005

coyote

i've been meaning to write about this

but have been avoiding it. it makes me sick.

Statement by Villanova University on Removal of Plaque in Falvey Library



VILLANOVA, Pa., Jan. 31 /PRNewswire/ -- Over the past week the
administration of Villanova University has listened to concerns voiced by
members of the Villanova community and beyond, regarding the study alcove
within Falvey Library dedicated by an ad hoc committee comprised of family,
friends, and colleagues of the late Dr. Mine Ener. The study alcove contained
a plaque in her memory.
While the University in no way condones the actions Dr. Ener took during
the final days of her life, as people of faith we are reminded not to judge
but rather try to understand the terrible circumstances surrounding her
actions. Likewise, we understand the strong sentiments expressed by members
of our extended community.
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.
As a result, the University will take the following actions to ensure the
unity for which we strive as a community:

1. The plaque has been removed from the Falvey Library

2. The University will convene a symposium on mental illness,
specifically postpartum depression and psychosis, led by the
College of Nursing

The furnishing of the study alcove and placement of the plaque are but two
of numerous actions taken by the ad hoc group. In addition to the study
alcove:

-- Some individuals have chosen to volunteer their time working with
organizations dedicated to better understanding those with
Down's Syndrome and Postpartum depression. Others have donated or
collected money for these groups.
-- Colleagues at Villanova, other universities, and organizations in
the fields of History, Women's Studies, Psychology and Middle
Eastern Studies have held lectures and symposia in her memory.
-- The University held a special prayer service for Dr. Ener and her
daughter, Raya in the time after their tragic deaths.

These measures were designed to provide outlets for healing in the
aftermath of two terrible tragedies.
It is our hope that our actions today will respond to the concerns voiced
during the past week and will contribute to a better understanding of the
complexities of tragedies such as these.

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The decision by Villanova to remove the plaque was made on Sunday evening, Jan 30th, and the plaque was gone before the library opened on Monday morning. The History Department, which sponsored the alcove, raised the funds, etc., were not consulted, and their questions to the administration about this decision have gone unanswered. Instead, the History Department has been described as an "ad hoc group" that took unauthorized actions that have damaged the University's reputation. That statement was later reversed, but the press release is already out.

I thought that this one time Villanova would do the right thing. They seemed poised to do so. They said the right words. I thought that maybe in light of a tragedy this close to home, they would choose correctly, unlike when they refused to divest their stock in Apartheid South African companies, unlike when the death of one of the brothers of AIDS was hushed up, and the man sent away to die. But in the face of controversy, Villanova chose to backpeddle, to turn their backs on the most tragic member of their community.

John Grodon's column in today's Philadelphia Inquirer states this, perhaps, better than I have.