Billionaire financier Bill Ackman has again spoken out against what he sees as a disturbing trend of discrimination at Harvard University, his alma mater. In a lengthy open letter posted on social media on Sunday, Ackman calls out Harvard for what he believes are “discriminatory practices” against White males, Asians, and conservatives.
The letter, addressed to Harvard President Claudine Gay, highlighted the issue of rising antisemitism on campus, which Ackman referred to as “the canary in the coal mine for other discriminatory practices at Harvard.”
One of Ackman’s primary concerns revolves around the university’s response to the Israel-Hamas war. He accused Harvard of failing to address escalating on-campus tensions related to this international conflict adequately. In his view, this inadequate response fosters a climate where faculty and students feel unable to express viewpoints that deviate from the accepted narrative, creating an environment that stifles intellectual diversity.
Ackman further said that some faculty members shared their concerns with him, stating that Harvard appeared to encourage “loud, hate-filled protests” while suppressing opposing viewpoints. They described an atmosphere where “whiteness” is deemed fundamentally oppressive, leading to a concerning acceptance of hatred towards Israel and Jews on campus.
Moreover, Ackman highlighted the university’s approach to teaching history, with students being taught that slavery and colonialism are the “animating forces of history.” He argued that this ideology dominates classroom discussions and coursework, potentially influencing students’ perspectives.
Ackman’s concerns over his alma mater extended beyond antisemitism and conservative discrimination. He claimed that straight white males, as well as men of Asian or Indian origin, faced recruitment and advancement challenges at Harvard. He criticized the Office for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, stating that it sees the world in a framework of oppressors and the oppressed, where the oppressor class includes white males, Asians, Jews and other people perceived to be successful and powerful.”
While Harvard professes a commitment to free expression, Ackman revealed that, in practice, free expression in the school appears limited to behind closed doors or among faculty and students who remain anonymous due to fears of backlash. He also suggested that faculty members were explicitly discouraged from acknowledging or writing about the school’s discriminatory hiring practices via email.
December 3, 2023
Dear President Gay,
Since my letter to you of November 4th to which you did not reply or even acknowledge, I have received substantial feedback and input from senior members of the Harvard faculty about a number of the issues I raised in my letter concerning…
— Bill Ackman (@BillAckman) December 4, 2023
Ackman’s open letter comes on the backdrop of rising tensions on campuses across the United States, fueled by the Israel-Hamas conflict and a surge in antisemitic and Islamophobic incidents.
After trucks bearing billboards said to have depicted Harvard students making anti-Israel statements came up, Harvard now finds itself among the universities under federal investigation for its handling of these issues, subject to rules that prohibit race, color, or national origin discrimination.