The letter, which was made public on social media on Sunday, is not the first time Ackman has taken issue with Harvard's policies. The CEO of Pershing Square Capital Management had previously written to Harvard President Claudine Gay, urging her to address the rise in antisemitism on campus following the Hamas' terror attacks on Israel.
Ackman's latest letter comes as the U.S. Department of Education investigates Harvard over allegations of antisemitism. The billionaire investor revealed that senior faculty members had informed him that antisemitism was just one form of discrimination practiced at the prestigious university.
In the letter, anonymous faculty members painted a picture of Harvard as a place where "loud, hate-filled protests appear to be encouraged, but where faculty and students can’t share points of view that are inconsistent with the accepted narrative on campus." They claimed that students are taught that slavery and colonialism are the "animating forces of history," and that this ideology "dominates" classroom discussions and coursework.
One faculty member explained that antisemitism is tolerated on campus because Jews are perceived as White. "Whiteness at Harvard is deemed fundamentally oppressive. Indigenous peoples are presented as in need of justice and reparations. Jews are presented as white people. It is therefore ok to hate Israel and Jews as they are deemed to be oppressors," the individual stated.
The faculty also expressed concerns about the influence of Harvard's Office of Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging (OEDIB) on students and faculty. They described the OEDIB as a refuge for those who feel victimized, primarily serving Black students, followed by brown students, and to a lesser extent, LGBTQ students. They also claimed that the office's standards are enforced in hiring practices, often excluding more qualified candidates if they are a "White or Asian straight male."
Ackman expressed his disappointment and embarrassment over the state of affairs at Harvard, a university he holds dear. He argued that the issues at Harvard extend beyond Jews and Israel, stating that straight White males, Asians, and men of Indian origin are discriminated against in recruitment and advancement. He pointed to the OEDIB as a significant contributor to this discrimination, as it views the world through a lens of oppressors and the oppressed.
The billionaire investor warned that such discrimination is not only illegal but also detrimental to the nation's competitiveness. He argued that our adversaries do not select their "best and brightest" based on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion metrics.
Ackman urged President Gay to address the antisemitism issue and other complaints, even in the face of potential resistance from "radical left-wing" faculty members. He stated, "Antisemitism is the canary in the coal mine for other discriminatory practices at Harvard."
He referred to the support of 34 Harvard student organizations for Hamas’ terrorism as a wake-up call and hoped that the upcoming Congressional hearing would serve as a similar wake-up call for President Gay.
Ackman made headlines in October when he called on Harvard to disclose the names of students who signed a letter blaming the Hamas’ terror attacks on Israel, so he and other executives could avoid hiring them in the future.
As of now, Harvard President Claudine Gay has not responded to the allegations made in Ackman's letter.