Several CEOs and business executives have backed billionaire hedge fund manager Bill Ackman’s call to not hire Harvard students, who issued a statement blaming Israel for Saturday’s horrific Hamas terror attacks on the country. He called on the Ivy League institute to release the names of all members of the Harvard student organisations that signed the statement.
“I have been asked by a number of CEOs if Harvard would release a list of the members of each of the Harvard organizations that have issued the letter assigning sole responsibility for Hamas’ heinous acts to Israel, so as to insure that none of us inadvertently hire any of their members,” Ackman said in a post on X.
If the members support the letter, the names of the signatories “should be made public so their views are publicly known,” Ackman said. The CEO of Pershing Square Capital Management said he wanted to ensure his company and others don’t “inadvertently hire” any students belonging to Harvard groups that signed the letter.
Ackman’s call was backed by several other CEOs. Multiple other business leaders, including the CEOs of shopping club FabFitFun, health tech startup EasyHealth and Dovehill Capital Management supported the call from Ackman to name the students.
Jonathan Neman, CEO of salad chain Sweetgreen, responded by saying, “I would like to know so I know never to hire these people.”
Jake Wurzak, CEO of DoveHill Capital Management, wrote, “I second this.”
David Duel, CEO of EasyHealth, said “Same” in response to Ackman’s post.
Michael Broukhim, CEO of FabFitFun, also supported the move. “We are in as well,” he said.
Following a backlash to the statement, some of the student groups have since withdrawn their endorsements.
Harvard student groups’ statement
The controversy comes in response to a joint statement released by a coalition of Harvard student groups following the attacks by Hamas that have killed more than 1,000 Israelis and at least 14 American citizens.
“We, the undersigned student organizations, hold the Israeli regime entirely responsible for all unfolding violence,” the statement from the Harvard Palestine Solidarity Groups said.
The statement said millions of Palestinians in Gaza have been “forced to live in an open-air prison” and called on Harvard to “take action to stop the ongoing annihilation of Palestinians.”
A footnote at the bottom of the statement said the names of the “original signing organizations have been concealed at this time.”
Jake Wurzak, the CEO of Dovehill Capital Management, said he believed the students who signed the letter should be named.
“Free Speech is paramount. Words have meaning and students shouldn’t be allowed to hide behind an institution,” Wurzak said on X.
Some students withdraw their signatures
According to the Harvard Crimson student newspaper, at least five of the original 34 signatories have withdrawn their endorsements as of Tuesday night.
For example, the Harvard Undergraduate Nepali Student Association said on Instagram “we regret” that the decision to co-sign the statement has been “interpreted as a tacit support for the recent violent attacks in Israel.”
“To ensure that our stance on the condemnation of violence by Hamas and support for a just peace remains clear, we retract our signatures from the statement,” the Nepali student group said.
Act on a Dream, a student group supporting immigrants, told the Crimson the group signed the statement as a “result of miscommunication and a lack of due diligence in sharing the statement with the entirety of the board.”
Others responded to Ackman saying students weren’t aware of the letter’s content or that groups they belong to were signing the statement.
Havards Student’s letter attracted strong condemnation
Condemnation of the letter has been strong among political and business leaders.
Seth Moulton, a Democratic congressman and former Harvard student, said he had never been more embarrassed of his alma mater.
“This is outright terrorism, and terrorism is never justified,” Moulton told WBZ-TV. “I think young Americans on college campuses need to live up to American values and be willing to have a really important honest debate, but not censor.”
Jonathan Neman, chief executive of Sweetgreen, the restaurant chain, tweeted that he would like the names of the students behind the letter.
“I would like to know so I know never to hire these people,” he said.