(Bloomberg) -- Bill Ackman made his name as an activist investor watching company stock prices. Now he’s turning his attention to his alma mater, Harvard University.
“I’m an activist, but my activism today is probably not in the corporate boardroom — it’s on campus,” Ackman said on The David Rubenstein Show: Peer-to-Peer Conversations on Bloomberg TV.
Since the Oct. 7 attack on Israel by Hamas, the hedge fund billionaire has fired off a litany of concerns to university President Claudine Gay about issues including antisemitism, free speech and diversity. He has shared his opinions about campus antisemitism with his more than 900,000 followers on the social media platform X.
Ackman says he’s concerned that antisemitic actions on campus have become “more aggressive.” His tweets included video of protesters interrupting classes with bullhorns and people shouting slogans such as “from the river to the sea,” which many interpret as a call for the destruction of Israel. Gay has condemned the slogan. Hamas is considered a terrorist group by the US and European Union.
“There’s certain speech that is certainly permissible under the First Amendment,” said Ackman, founder of hedge fund Pershing Square Capital Management. “And then, there’s certain speech that I would say is undesirable on a campus. But I felt there was an incredible double standard.”
Ackman said he’s yet to hear a response from Gay, who spent hours on Tuesday testifying in front of Congress with two other university presidents about antisemitism on campus.
“People can be critical of Israel, the Israeli government. But, sadly, there are kids who have been spat on or been roughed up, or have been harassed, or antisemitic statements have been put on Slack message boards on campus,” Ackman said.
He also criticized university offices of diversity, equity and inclusion, known as DEI, saying they’re not open to all minority groups.
“If you’re an Asian student at Harvard, the DEI office is not there to help you.” said Ackman, who graduated from Harvard College and its business school. “If you’re a Jewish student at Harvard, the DEI office is not there to help you.”
Ackman also addressed the lack of divergent political views among faculty on the campus, a position he elaborated on in another post that said the university’s hiring practices have promoted a leftward bias.
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