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Bill Ackman says antisemitism is the 'canary in the coal mine' for other discriminatory practices at Harvard

Bill Ackman
CEO and Portfolio Manager Pershing Square Capital Management L.P. William Ackman speaks at The New York Times DealBook Conference at Jazz at Lincoln Center on November 10, 2016 in New York City.Bryan Bedder
  • Financier Bill Ackman renewed his criticism of Harvard University.

  • He criticized its president for its response to the Israel-Hamas war.

  • He said antisemitism was "the canary in the coal mine for other discriminatory practices."

Billionaire financier Bill Ackman has renewed his criticism of Harvard University, calling on the Ivy League college's president to address what he claims is rising antisemitism and other forms of discrimination on campus.

In a letter posted on X Sunday, the hedge fund manager and Harvard alumnus described antisemitism as "the canary in the coal mine for other discriminatory practices at Harvard."

He added, without clear evidence, that straight white males were being discriminated against in recruitment and advancement at the university.

The letter comes as Harvard President Claudine Gay prepares to testify to Congress on Tuesday about the university's response to escalating on-campus tensions following the Israel-Hamas war.

In the letter, Ackman published a series of criticisms of university authorities, allegedly from senior faculty members at Harvard who had asked not to be named.

Ackman in the letter argues that the free speech policies cited by Gay in defense of the university's treatment of pro-Palestine protests are inconsistent and that its hiring practices are discriminatory.

"The problems at Harvard are clearly not just about Jews and Israel. It is abundantly clear that straight white males are discriminated against in recruitment and advancement at Harvard. That is also apparently true to a somewhat lesser extent for men who are Asians or of Indian origin," said Ackman.

"While Harvard claims that it is committed to free expression, in practice free expression appears to only happen 'behind closed doors' or among faculty and students speaking anonymously," he said, alleging an anti-Israel bias on campus.

According to data from Harvard, white men make up around 56% of tenured faculty members, with the number decreasing from 64% a decade ago, while women, nonbinary, and faculty of color make up around 44%.

The number of faculty members of color stands at around 22%, according to the data, up from 16% 20 years ago.

After being appointed Harvard president in July, Gay said that boosting measures to address the long-standing lack of diversity among Harvard faculty would be a core objective, The Harvard Crimson reported.

Some conservatives have long criticized Harvard's affirmative action policies designed to counter racial discrimination and encourage diversity in the student body.

The conservative-majority Supreme Court ruled the affirmative action student admissions policies unlawful in June, though different legal structures govern employee hires.

Business Insider has contacted Harvard for comment on Ackman's claims.

The Israel-Hamas conflict has led to rising tensions on campuses across the US and a spike in antisemitic and Islamophobic incidents.

In October, trucks with billboards displayed images of students in Harvard alleged to have made anti-Israel statements.

Harvard is among the universities under federal investigation for its handling of the situation under rules "which prohibits race, color, or national origin discrimination, including harassment based on a person's shared ancestry or ethnic characteristics."

Read the original article on Business Insider