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Margaret Wente resigns from Massey College following backlash from faculty, students

Governing Board commits to eliminating anti-Black racism, anti-Indigenous racism, anti-gender discrimination
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Massey College faced considerable criticism after it named Wente as a member of the Quadrangle Society. TEVEN LEE/THE VARSITY
Massey College faced considerable criticism after it named Wente as a member of the Quadrangle Society. TEVEN LEE/THE VARSITY

The Massey College Governing Board has accepted the resignation of Margaret Wente from her upcoming membership in the Quadrangle Society at Massey College.

This follows significant backlash against her appointment in the U of T community in relation to reports of plagiarism and accusations of racism, sexism, and transphobia in her writing as a columnist for The Globe and Mail. 

According to a message from the Governing Board’s vice-chair, Craig Thorburn, Wente wrote in her letter of resignation that “the accusations against her are false and outrageous and that her record speaks for itself.”

The Governing Board has expressed a desire to “eliminate any impediments to an environment that is completely free from anti-Black racism, anti-Indigenous racism, anti-gender identity views and discrimination of any kind” and asserted that these efforts will be the primary focus of future board meetings. 

Resignations, petition demanding rescission 

Three faculty members resigned last week from positions at Massey College in light of Wente’s appointment. Resignations include director of the Women & Gender Studies Institute and senior fellow Alissa Trotz, history professor and senior fellow Rick Halpern, and director of the Centre for Integrative Anti-Racism Studies at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education and senior fellow George J. Sefa Dei. 

Allegations against Wente include that she “failed to properly attribute prose” and promoted pseudo-scientific claims about race. According to Trotz, she “demonstrated consistent and outright hostility to questions of equity, women and gender studies and anti-racism.”

A petition also circulated asking the Governing Board to rescind Wente’s appointment, which garnered over 3,100 signatures. Massey College Principal Nathalie Des Rosiers had previously claimed that Wente’s appointment was under review, though Wente’s resignation was accepted by the Governing Board before any decision was announced. 

Following Wente’s resignation, Halpern, who had been a senior fellow at Massey College since the early 2000s, spoke to The Varsity in an interview. He called for a focused review of the internal process by which Wente was nominated, which would have gone through several levels of approval before reaching the principal. Halpern said that Wente’s resignation may let Massey College “off the hook” for reviewing its internal processes. 

The Varsity has reached out to Massey College and George J. Sefa Dei for comment. Alissa Trotz has declined to comment.

Editor’s Note (June 23, 12:58 am): This article has been updated to correct the positions of the senior fellows who resigned and the number of signatories on the petition.

Editor’s Note (June 23, 12:53 pm): The article has been updated to include comment from Rick Halpern.

Editor’s Note (August 27, 8:35 pm): This article has been corrected to remove claims that Wente was appointed as a senior fellow at Massey College. The Varsity has learned that Wente was only appointed as a member of the Quadrangle Society.