On Saturday, billionaire hedge fund manager Bill Ackman criticized Harvard President Claudine Gay for not doing more to protect Jewish students on campus who are dealing with “widely prevalent” antisemitism on campus since the Oct. 7 Hamas terrorist attack on Israel and said he has lost confidence that she and the University “will do what is required.”
In a letter to President Gay posted on X, Ackman pointed to a double standard with how the university treats different groups. He referenced a faculty member who asked, “What would Claudine do if 34 Harvard student organizations put out a statement on May 25th, 2020 that ‘George Floyd had it coming'?”
He noted that Gay has “yet to condemn the student organization letter which holds Israel “solely responsible” for the heinous and barbaric acts of a terrorist organization.”
Last month, when distancing herself from the group of 34 students Gay condemned the attacks on Israel but insisted that the students have “a right to speak for themselves.”
Ackman noted in the letter that “If Harvard indeed had a strong track record of protecting free speech, many would have taken your support for free speech more seriously.” He added, “Unfortunately, Harvard has not embraced a serious commitment to free speech, particularly in recent years.”
“The Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE) Annual College Free Speech Rankings, Harvard has consistently finished in the bottom quartile in each of the past four years,” and it achieved its lowest free speech ranking ever for the 2023 academic year,” he said.
Ackaman noted that the “double standard” being applied by the university violates Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and that threatens the school's funding. “Harvard has failed in recent weeks to meet its Title VI obligations which threatens a major source of the University’s funding,” he said. “When coupled with numerous Jewish and non-Jewish alumni who have publicly and privately shared these same concerns, important sources of Harvard’s revenues are at risk.”
Offering his assistance, Ackman concluded the letter, “I would be delighted to help in any way that I can to enable you to succeed in this mission and as Harvard’s president.”
Israeli business tycoon Idan Ofer and his wife Batia called Gay's handling of the anti-Israel group “shocking and insensitive” as they resigned from the executive board of Harvard's Kennedy School of Government.