Billionaire hedge fund manager Bill Ackman is publicly calling for the resignation of the presidents of Harvard University, the University of Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) following their responses in a congressional hearing about antisemitic protests on their campuses.
Ackman, a Harvard alumnus, expressed dismay at Claudine Gay of Harvard, Liz Magill of UPenn, and Sally Kornbluth of MIT for what he perceived as their inadequate stance on addressing antisemitism.
“In short, they said: It ‘depends on the context’ and ‘whether the speech turns into conduct,’ that is, actually killing Jews,” Ackman wrote on X. “This could be the most extraordinary testimony ever elicited in the Congress, certainly on the topic of genocide.”
During a House Committee on Education and the Workforce hearing, the university leaders were questioned about the increase in violent antisemitic demonstrations at their institutions following the Hamas attack on Israel on October 7. Representative Elise Stefanik (R-NY) challenged them with a hypothetical scenario about advocating for mass murder, drawing a parallel to campus protesters calling for a "global intifada" against Jews.
Ackman's frustration was evident in his social media post, where he criticized the university presidents for their failure to unequivocally condemn calls for violence. He emphasized the gravity of genocide and accused the leaders of failing to uphold educational, moral, and ethical standards.
The Pershing Square Capital founder's call for resignation was further fueled by what he saw as disrespectful behavior by the university heads during the hearing, accusing them of showing disdain for Congress and refusing to answer questions directly.
“The presidents’ answers reflect the profound educational, moral and ethical failures that pervade certain of our elite educational institutions due in large part to their failed leadership,” he wrote. “They must all resign in disgrace.”
“Why has antisemitism exploded on campus and around the world? Because of leaders like Presidents Gay, Magill and Kornbluth who believe genocide depends on the context,” he added.
Ackman has been an active voice against antisemitism in the US, particularly since the Israel-Hamas conflict. He has previously called for actions against Harvard students and a Harvard Law Review editor for their roles in antisemitic incidents.