Billionaire says Harvard president got her job because of diversity, equity, and inclusion score

Billionaire hedge fund manager Bill Ackman has suggested that Harvard University president Claudine Gay got her job solely because of her identity, not actual merit.

He revealed this in a tweet posted on Thursday, two days after Gay and two other university presidents sparked massive backlash for essentially testifying to Congress that on-campus calls for genocide against Jews is OK “depending on the context.”

View the tweet below:

“I learned from someone with first person knowledge of the @Harvard president search that the committee would not consider a candidate who did not meet the DEI office’s criteria,” he began.

In other words, when Gay was chosen as president, the decision was made based on her “diversity, equity, and inclusion” score, which is to say it was based on her racial/gender identity, not on her actual relevant skills or the lack thereof.

“The same was likely true for other elite universities doing searches at the same time, creating an even more limited universe of DEI-eligible presidential candidates,” Ackman’s tweet continued.

Put differently, Harvard University is likely not alone in prioritizing DEI “qualifications” over actual merit/skill. This means the other two university presidents who testified on Tuesday — MIT president Sally Kornbluth and University of Pennsylvania president M. Elizabeth Magill — could be seen as also being chosen for their jobs because of their DEI eligibility, not because of actual merit.

Why is this bad? Ackman explained that in his tweet next.

“Shrinking the pool of candidates based on required race, gender, and/or sexual orientation criteria is not the right approach to identifying the best leaders for our most prestigious universities. And it is also not good for those awarded the office of president who find themselves in a role that they would likely not have obtained were it not for a fat finger on the scale,” he wrote.

Concluding his tweet, he warned that what’s happening now with DEI is similar to what happened decades ago during the McCarthy era.

“I have been called brave for my tweets over the last few weeks. The same could be said for those called out Joseph McCarthy during the Red Scare. I don’t think it will be long before we look back on the last few years of free speech suppression and the repeated career-ending accusations of racist for those who questioned the DEI movement,” he wrote.

“We are all shortly going to realize that the DEI era is the McCarthy era Part II. History rhymes, but it does not repeat,” he finished.

Ackman’s “brave” tweets began late Tuesday, hours after Gay, Kornbluth, and Magill testified before Congress:

During their testimony, they were asked by Rep. Elise Stefanik whether students calling for the genocide of Jews on campus violates their specific school’s code of conduct.

“If the speech turns into conduct, it can be harassment, yes. It is a context-dependent decision,” Penn President Magill replied.

Harvard President Gay likewise said “it depends on the context,” and MIT President Kornbluth said it’d only violate rules “if the speech turns into conduct.”

In other words, calls for genocide would only violate their schools if actual genocide was committed as a result of the calls. Simply put, if the students calling for genocide suddenly started butchering Jews, only then would it be a problem.

Ackman was outraged, to put it lightly.

“The answers they gave reflect the profound moral bankruptcy of Presidents Gay, Magill and Kornbluth. Representative @EliseStefanik was so shocked with the answers that she asked each of them the same question over and over again, and they gave the same answers over and over again,” he wrote in a lengthy X post.

“In short, they said: It ‘depends on the context’ and ‘whether the speech turns into conduct,’ that is, actually killing Jews. This could be the most extraordinary testimony ever elicited in the Congress, certainly on the topic of genocide, which to remind us all is: ‘the deliberate killing of a large number of people from a particular nation or ethnic group with the aim of destroying that nation or group,’” he added.

Vivek Saxena

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