Michael Marrus has resigned his Senior Fellowship at the elite U of T-affiliated Massey College. His resignation came on October 1, six days after an incident where he used an anti-Black racial slur towards a Black Junior Fellow.
“I am so sorry for what I said, in a poor effort at jocular humour at lunch last Tuesday,” reads Marrus’ resignation letter, addressed to Head of Massey College Hugh Segal Segal. “What I said was both foolish and, I understood immediately, hurtful, and I want, first and foremost, to convey my deepest regrets to all whom I may have harmed.”
On September 26, Segal had 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 unofficial name change that occurred in the wake of the incident, the Head of Massey College’s title was “Master.”
Marrus notes that, in the wake of his actions, his continued presence at Massey may injure the reputation of the college, and potentially be a matter of continuing offense. His resignation comes in consequence and “as an expression of loyalty to the college.” He announced that he will leave his office as soon as the appropriate arrangements are made.
“To say that I regret the event that created the need for your letter would be a serious understatement,” wrote Segal in response to Marrus’ resignation. This is the only reference to the incident itself in Segal’s response, which thanks Marrus for his long-term support for the college.
“The presence of distinguished senior scholars such as yourself and others at Massey is of huge value to the mix of generations, disciplines and life skills that enrich the very nature of the Massey experience at its best.”
The events of September 26 saw an outpouring of condemnation, with a group of Junior Fellows issuing five demands to Segal, supported by an open letter with almost 200 signatures from faculty and students.
In response to the incident, Segal has informally changed his title to “Head of College,” as well as noting in a September 29 statement that the 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.