Oct 11, 2023 - Politics & Policy

CEOs seek to blacklist Harvard students after signing pro-Palestinian letter

Entrance gate in front of a building at Harvard University

Wigglesworth Hall Widener Library in Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Photo: Sergi Reboredo/VW Pics/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Several CEOs are urging Harvard University to release the names of the people in the student organizations who signed a pro-Palestinian letter that criticized Israel.

Driving the news: Billionaire Bill Ackman, a hedge fund manager and Harvard alum, said in an online post Tuesday that he had been asked by "a number of CEOs" if Harvard would disclose the list of students in the groups that issued a letter that said it held "the Israeli regime entirely responsible for all unfolding violence."

What they're saying: Several business leaders backed Ackman's call — including Sweetgreen's CEO Jonathan Neman, who replied to the post, saying: "I would like to know so I know never to hire these people."

  • Jake Wurzak, CEO of DoveHill Capital Management, also replied to the post, saying: "I second this."
  • Michael Broukhim, FabFitFun's CEO, added: "We are in as well."

State of play: At least five of the 34 student groups that co-signed Saturday's letter have since retracted their support for the letter, per the Harvard Crimson student newspaper.

  • Among them is the Harvard Undergraduate Nepali Student Association, which said in an online post Tuesday it regretted that its decision had been "interpreted as a tacit support for the recent violent attacks in Israel."
  • Harvard's president Claudine Gay said Tuesday that she condemns "the terrorist atrocities perpetrated by Hamas" and "while our students have the right to speak for themselves, no student group" speaks for the college or its leadership.
  • Harvard did not immediately respond to Axios' request for comment Wednesday, and neither did letter co-signatories the Harvard Islamic Society, Harvard South Asian Law Students Association and the Harvard Palestine Solidarity Committee.

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