Billionaire Bill Ackman Fires Letter to Harvard, Flags Concern Over Anti-Semitic Incidents on Campus

Demands include the immediate suspension of students allegedly involved in hate slogans and antisemitic activities

Billionaire hedge fund CEO Bill Ackman has penned a strongly worded open letter to Harvard University's President, expressing his deep unease and lack of confidence in the university's ability to ensure the safety of Israeli students and address rising anti-Semitic activities on its campus.

Bill Ackman

In the letter, Ackman disclosed that after extensive meetings with over 200 Jewish and non-Jewish students, faculty members, and staff, he had come to the stark realization that the situation at Harvard is far more dire than he had initially realized. The letter specifically highlights instances of physical and virtual attacks on Jewish students, as well as the chant, "Intifada! Intifada! Intifada! From the River to the Sea, Palestine Shall Be Free!" which he claims translates to a call for the destruction of the state of Israel and its Jewish population.

Ackman contends that, under the guise of free expression, "eliminationist and anti-Semitic statements of the protesters" are freely circulating on the Harvard campus. He goes on to remark, "...if Harvard indeed had a strong track record of protecting free speech, many would have taken your support for free speech more seriously. Unfortunately, Harvard has not embraced a serious commitment to free speech, particularly so in recent years," the letter stated.

Furthermore, Ackman asserts that Harvard is losing ground in terms of freedom of speech rankings and alleges that several students have been denied their First Amendment rights. He challenges the university's claim of a commitment to free expression, stating that it appears false and hypocritical to both the broader university community and, in particular, the Jewish community.

The letter emphasizes that Jewish students are living in fear and are hesitant to express their beliefs and concerns, with Ackman singling out members of Harvard's Office of Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging (OEDIB) as a source of concern. He accuses them of failing to support Jewish, Asian, and non-LGBTQIA white students.

"When anti-Semitism is widely prevalent on campus, and the DEI office – which 'views diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging as the pathway to achieving inclusive excellence and fostering a campus culture where everyone can thrive' – does not welcome Jewish students, we have a serious problem. It is abundantly clear that the campus culture being fostered at Harvard today is not one where everyone is included, feels a sense of belonging, welcomes diversity, or is a place where 'everyone can thrive,'" the letter states.

Moreover, Ackman alleges that Harvard's failure to condemn the October 7 Hamas terror incident has only fueled a wave of anti-Israel attacks on its campus. He asserts that subsequent statements appear to blame the Israeli community for the war, creating an unwelcome and unprotected environment for them. The letter contends that while anti-Semitism may be limited to a small group, the university's inaction seems to be emboldening them.

Ackman's demands include the immediate suspension of students allegedly involved in physically assaulting their peers, disciplinary action against students who engage in hate slogans, a review of the messaging board, outreach to students who feel unsafe, and an evaluation of OEDIB, as well as monitoring the task force's results.

As Harvard grapples with these concerns, Bill Ackman's letter underscores the need for urgent action to address safety issues and ensure an inclusive and welcoming environment for all students on its campus.