For at least a year now people have been quite appropriately doing important work in questioning legacies of racism and institutionalized forms of racism at Massey College, including in the traditional use of the title “Master” to refer to the head of the College.
A hurtful, callous, and offensive remark made in the dining hall has added urgency to the discussion. It was described in the resignation letter of the scholar who made it as “a poor effort at jocular humour” and a “bad joke”. In part, Dr. Michael Marrus’ letter from 1 October 2017 says:
First, I am so sorry for what I said, in a poor effort at jocular humour at lunch last Tuesday. What I said was both foolish and, I understood immediately, hurtful, and I want, first and foremost, to convey my deepest regrets all whom I may have harmed. What I said was a bad joke in reference to your title of â€œMaster,â€ at the time. I should never have made such a remark, and I want to assure those who heard me, and those who have learned about it, that while I had no ill- intent whatsoever I can appreciate how those at the table and those who have learned about it could take offense at what I said.
I’m not going to link the rather foolish editorials published by The Globe & Mail and the National Post (two papers that seem to share lazy assumptions and ineptitude much like Canada’s Liberal and Conservative parties). Some more meaningful commentary has already been in the public press:
Op-ed: Reconciliation at Massey College
An Indigenous Junior Fellow shares her story
By Audrey Rochette
Op-ed: The importance of forgiveness
A former Don of Hall reflects on moving forward from conflict at Massey College
By Juliet Guichon
Black faculty members pen letter condemning Marrus, coverage of incident
Open letter criticizes media outlets for framing incident as â€œpolitical correctness run amokâ€
By Aidan Currie
In my six years at Massey College, I have had regular routine and polite interactions with Dr. Marrus. My only exposure to his academic work has been two lectures he gave on the theatrical quality of trials.