An anti-Black racial slur made by a Senior Fellow at Massey College has prompted widespread criticism from students and faculty.
The incident happened on September 26 when Head of Massey College Hugh Segal approached a table at a lunch attended by Michael Marrus and three Junior Fellows. Marrus, a Holocaust Historian and Professor Emeritus at the University of Toronto, allegedly turned to a Black Junior Fellow, and in reference to Segal’s arrival, said: “You know this is your master, eh? Do you feel the lash?”
Until the name change that occurred in the wake of the incident, the Head of Massey College’s title was “Master.”
“I condemn the hurtful and completely inappropriate remarks made by Senior Fellow Michael Marrus to one of our Junior Fellows,” wrote Segal in a statement released on September 29. “There is no place for overt, jocular or subtle racism here at Massey College.”
Segal has “set aside” the title of Master, “which has been associated with violence and the ‘lash’ in this week’s incident.” Formal change of Segal’s title will require a task force of Massey’s Governing Board to undergo a legal process in the Ontario legislature.
The incident prompted a group of Junior Fellows to make five demands of Segal, which were supported by close to 200 students and faculty at U of T in an open letter sent to Segal.
The demands are as follows:
1. The termination of Michael Marrus’ association with Massey College as a Senior Fellow.
2. A formal public apology issued from Massey College.
3. The immediate title replacement of Master with a suitable alternative title to describe the Head of Massey College.
4. Mandatory anti-racist training organized by Massey for all Junior and Senior members of the Fellowship — specifically for members of the House Committee.
5. 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.
Michael Marrus, as of this time, has not resigned his Fellowship, nor has it been terminated.
In the September 29 statement, Segal noted that Massey administration will work with the Equity Secretariat, made up of Junior Fellows, to organize a town hall on racism. Dovetailing this is Segal’s promise to involve U of T’s Anti-Racism and Cultural Diversity Office to lead anti-racist education for all members of the college.
The Head of Massey College will also meet with the Junior Fellows who issued the calls to action to discuss next steps.
Michael Marrus did not respond to The Varsity’s request for comment.