editor’s note You likely noticed the front of this magazine reads “Summer 2014,” and you may have thought, “That must be an error.” Or, “Geez. These editors should really learn how to do their jobs.” Well, it’s no error. It is indeed November, but this is the summer issue of Perspectives. Let me explain. I am a person who prides myself of completed work, on not biting off more than I can chew, and on making good on my commitments, but with this issue, I did not do any of those things. You see, this issue was going to plan. It was put in motion at the 2013 AFA Annual Meeting when the editorial board brainstormed several concepts for the coming year’s magazines. There had been high-profile coverage of several recent campus incidents that focused on race and fraternities/sororities. Yet, the incidents were difficult to navigate, answers were illusive, and progress was short-sighted.
Heather Matthews Kirk Editor @hmk0618
We pitched the topic in an Association Update, and emails expressing interest in writing started to arrive in my inbox. We reached out to other potential authors who had written extensively on race. By June, I had a cluster of stories to be edited throughout July. The issue was shaping up well. And then, life got in the way of this volunteer Editor gig. You see, for the previous 10 months, my boss/mentor/ friend had been living with cancer. Despite treatment, her health took a sudden turn for the worst, and on July 18, she passed away. While she had been sick for months, death came quickly. It surprised and it shook me.
I thank you for your patience, because whether you realized it or not, you were waiting on this issue. And I hope it lives up to the wait.
My mentor was my organization’s executive director, Deb Ensor. She led our women’s fraternity for almost 30 years and by many accounts was an interfraternal giant. She was a change agent, a visionary, a driver, a person who made things happen—and not just for her own group, but for the interfraternal community, from professionals to students. In my mind, Deb was invincible, but it was not the case. In coping with her death, I threw myself into work. At the office, I had new traveling consultants to train, a magazine to publish, and programs to launch. I kept telling myself, “Next week, I’ll be able to focus on Perspectives.” I ignored emails from editorial board members offering help because I kept thinking, “I’ll focus on it tomorrow. I’ll reply by sending articles for edit.” Yet, I kept moving priorities at work ahead of these volunteer duties. What I realize now is I was grieving. Deeply. I thought if I was focusing on my job, I would be making her proud. As we learned in the spring issue of Perspectives, which focused on mental health, each person has hard-wired coping mechanisms, and my brain has always been wired to work. A lot of things slipped in those weeks—volunteer commitments, my marathon training program, connection with friends, etc. I shouldered my grieving by putting in long hours at the office, but somewhere around September, I came up for air. I began approaching things differently, and while a void remained, a new normal established itself. Perspectives came back into view. So while I regret how tardy this issue is, I know it is okay, because at some point, each of us will have to prioritize personal or professional above volunteer commitments. While I wish I had been a better delegator and let my well qualified editorial board members take the reins, I know it is okay, because as some point each of us has failed to accept help. And most importantly, I know it is okay, because each article is as relevant today as when it was written. No matter what time of year it is, the conversation around race is a crucial one. No matter the season, these perspectives will force us to ask hard questions and think about our roles uniquely. So I thank you for your patience, because whether you realized it or not, you were waiting on this issue. And I hope it lives up to the wait.