Skip To Content

University Of Toronto Holocaust Scholar Resigns Over Racist Remark

Michael Marrus, an emeritus professor of history at the University of Toronto’s Massey College, resigned earlier this week after making a racist remark to a student.

Last week, as The Toronto Star reported, Marrus had been sitting at lunch with three of the College’s graduate students, known as junior fellows, when head of the College Hugh Segal, known as its “master,” asked to join them.

Marrus, addressing a black graduate student present, allegedly commented “You know this is your master, eh? Do you feel the lash?”

His comments received an immediate backlash, with close to 200 University of Toronto students and faculty signing a letter calling for him to be removed from his position at Massey College. Marrus, a Holocaust scholar who was officially retired from the University, had continued his scholarship at the College as an unpaid senior fellow.

Quoted in The Star, Marrus informed Segal of his resignation in an apologetic letter. “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,” he wrote.

Speaking to The Globe and Mail, Marrus expressed dismay at the University’s handling of his comments.

“Where was the due process, where was the effort to hear me out, where was the effort to relate to 30 years of scholarship that have a lot to do with human rights?” he said. “There is something cruel and reckless about this campaign.” He added that he had attempted to apologize to the student to whom he had made the remark, but his apology had been rejected.

Massey College, according to The Globe and Mail, has acceded to a set of demands in the letter that petitioned for Marrus’s dismissal. The title of “master” has been temporarily removed from use, and the college has instituted anti-racism training.

I hope you appreciated this article. Before you go, I’d like to ask you to please support the Forward’s award-winning, nonprofit journalism during this critical time.

Now more than ever, American Jews need independent news they can trust, with reporting driven by truth, not ideology. We serve you, not any ideological agenda.

At a time when other newsrooms are closing or cutting back, the Forward has removed its paywall and invested additional resources to report on the ground from Israel and around the U.S. on the impact of the war, rising antisemitism and the protests on college campuses.

Readers like you make it all possible. Support our work by becoming a Forward Member and connect with our journalism and your community.

Make a gift of any size and become a Forward member today. You’ll support our mission to tell the American Jewish story fully and fairly. 

— Rachel Fishman Feddersen, Publisher and CEO

Join our mission to tell the Jewish story fully and fairly.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.