College suspends title of ‘Master’ after racist incident
Massey College has come under pressure from UofT faculty and students after Senior Fellow Michael Marrus made a racist comment towards a Black Junior Fellow.
A letter penned by UofT faculty and students explains that at lunch on September 26th, Marrus addressed a Junior Fellow with, “You know this is your master, eh? Do you feel the lash?” when the current Massey College leader, Hugh Segal—whose title as head of the college is “Master”—attempted to join their table.
Junior Fellows who had witnessed the incident quickly responded with calls for change concerning anti-Black racism on campus. The form states the list of demands made by the Junior Fellows. They are as follows:
- The termination of MichaelMarrus’ association with Massey College as a Senior Fellow
- A formal public apology issued from Massey College
- The immediate title replacement of Master with a suitable alternative title to describe the head of Massey College
- Mandatory antiracist training organized by Massey for all Junior and Senior members of theFellowship—specifically for members of the House Committee
- A formal meeting with Hugh Segal and the administration of Massey College to present their plan of action in response to this and other ongoing issues affecting racialized members of the College.
Massey College’s Task Force of the Governing Board has responded to this incident by temporarily suspending the term “Master” to refer to the leader position. Segal accepts the title “Head of College” while final decisions are being made. The title of “Master” refers to the head of the corporation, and was established in 1960-61 through Bill-115, which is under the “Masters and Fellows of Massey College Act.”
Segal also plans to work with the Equity Secretariat, made up of Junior Fellows, to build on existing initiatives at the college which include anti-racism and diversity training for all Junior and Senior Fellows. Massey celebrated their first ever Black History Month in February 2016, which was organized by Junior Fellows Eddie Kawooya and Anthony Briggs.
In a message from Segal, an apology is stated where the incident is condemned by the Massey College community: “We are committed to providing an open, welcoming and inclusive academic and residential community and will ensure that it is a safe space for all our Fellows in which this kind of encounter can never happen again,” Segal states.
Exclusively through UofT News, Vice-President of Human Resources and Equity, Kelly Hannah-Moffat also reflected on this incident and its delinquency with a standard for equity at the university.
There is no public statement released on the consideration of termination of Michael Marrus from Massey College. Michael Marrus is a Professor Emeritus in the History department and the Anne Tanenbaum Centre for Jewish Studies at the University of Toronto. Marrus has also published eight books about the Holocaust and has won a “National Jewish Book Award” in 1982 for his work, “Vichy France and the Jews.”
Massey College is a graduate residential college in UofT, independent from university administration, where Senior and Junior fellows are nominated by the UofT community and occasionally outside communities.
Segal states, “There is no place for overt, jocular, or subtle racism here at Massey College.”