Massey College's only Black governing board member resigns over Margaret Wente appointment

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      Former Globe and Mail columnist Margaret Wente was one of Canada's more controversial media figures during her 20 years of opinion writing.

      In the early 2000s, she came under fire for questioning the science of climate change. And as late as 2013, she was claiming that "temperatures have held steady for 16 years".

      Several years ago, she also found herself in the midst of a plagiarism controversy following blog posts by University of Ottawa professor Carol Wainio.

      In 2017 when two other columnists were sacked, Wente began trending on Twitter due to calls on the social media site for her to lose her job.

      Two years later, Wente tried to make an issue of teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg's Asperger diagnosis. 

      Yesterday, Wente was on a list of incoming senior members of Massey College in an announcement by the principal, Nathalie Des Rosiers.

      That prompted the only Black member of the governing board, Alissa Trotz, to resign from the board and the college.

      In a letter to the governing board, Trotz included links to articles mentioning Wente. The professor alleged that they demonstrate "the ease with which she has been prepared to use her professional position as a journalist in a major Canadian newspaper to reproduce and champion scientific theories of race that have no standing or scientific legitimacy in an academic community such as ours".

      Trotz, director of the Women & Gender Studies Institute at the University of Toronto, also criticized "deeply unequal and non-transparent mechanisms of selection that I saw when invited to join the Senior Fellows Nomination Committee this year".

      "It also feels utterly lonely that I might be the only person at GB to object to Margaret Wente's presence at Massey College, because it goes against everything I understood the College to be aspiring to," Trotz added.

      "It raises questions of due diligence, of how her name would even make it out of one of the College's estates, where the nomination would first have had to be vetted and discussed thoroughly and voted upon before going forward to GB, when the first entering of her name on google would have immediately pointed to these questions."

      Margaret Wente was given a podium on the Globe and Mail's opinion pages for two decades before accepting a buyout in 2019.

      Trotz has previously won a University of Toronto President's Teaching Award, as well as an Outstanding Teaching Award from the Faculty of Arts and Science.

      Massey College describes itself as "a graduate students’ residential community affiliated with, but independent from, the University of Toronto".

      The college also welcomes "eminent members of society beyond the academic world", known as Quadrangle Society members, a group that now includes Wente.


      A University of Toronto professor has resigned his membership in Massey College over the Wente appointment.

      George J. Sefa Dei is the director of the Centre for Integrative Anti-Racism Studies at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education.

      There's also an online petition signed by members of the University of Toronto community calling on Massey College to rescind the appointment.