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Report: Harvard tries to “smooth things over” with Silicon Valley following terrible antisemitism controversy

 

Following the university’s reaction to the attacks on Israel on October 7, the $51 billion endowment organization of Harvard University met with wealthy investors in an effort to appease Silicon Valley leaders.

Executives from the nation’s largest educational endowment—Harvard Management Company—met in Northern California with three Silicon Valley firms—Sequoia Capital, Kleiner Perkins, and Andreessen Horowitz—according to a Wall Street Journal story.

They visited with tech-hub companies as well as Elad Gil, an investor of Israeli descent, and Patrick Collison, CEO of payments company Stripe. Stripe has Harvard as an investor.

Following former president Claudine Gay’s congressional testimony, which ignited intense national criticism regarding the Ivy League institution’s stance on antisemitism on campus, both Gil and Collison have been vocal in their opposition to the school.

Report: Harvard tries to “smooth things over” with Silicon Valley following terrible antisemitism controversy - The Hard News Daily
Harvard gates and Dr. Claudine Gay split image (Getty Images)

The presidents of MIT, Harvard, and the University of Pennsylvania gave “shamefully evasive” answers during the congressional hearing on antisemitism on their campuses, which Collison described as “shocked” in a post he made on X on December 6.

During yesterday’s congressional hearing, the presidents of MIT, Harvard, and Penn astonished me by refusing to condemn calls for genocide. According to Collison, who saw a few hours of the hearing, the responses were consistently dishonorably vague and evasive. “As an alum (albeit fleeting) of the first of those institutions, it appears that something is very broken.”

Report: Harvard tries to “smooth things over” with Silicon Valley following terrible antisemitism controversy - The Hard News Daily
A video board monitor truck drives around the neighborhood of the Harvard University President’s house Wednesday, Jan. 3, 2024. Harvard president Claudine Gay stepped  down from her leadership position after plagiarism, antisemitism scandals.

According to the Wall Street Journal, during the discussions, representatives from Harvard University sought to mend fences and reassure investors that free speech and student safety are the university’s top priorities.

“HMC is fortunate to have strong, longstanding relationships with many investment managers who care deeply about higher education,” said Patrick McKiernan, a spokesman for the Harvard Endowment, talked to WSJ. “It is important to engage with our partners and share with them all of the ways that Harvard is actively working to ensure student safety and protect freedom of speech.”

Harvard University gate - Report: Harvard tries to “smooth things over” with Silicon Valley following terrible antisemitism controversy - The Hard News Daily
People walk through the gate on Harvard Yard at the Harvard University campus on June 29, 2023 in Cambridge, Massachusetts.  (Getty Images)

 

Some supervisors’ worries have been allayed by Gay’s resignation, according to the WSJ.

The university is cognizant of the accusation that its diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives have gone too far in recent years, according to private-equity businessman Paul Finnegan, who is both the chair of the endowment and a member of the 12-person Harvard Corporation that controls the institution.

With DEI becoming so pervasive on campus, HMC executives acknowledged that some faculty and students may feel pressured to limit themselves.

According to WSJ, the executives stated that Harvard was considering policy changes to allow more academic independence and free speech.

Bill Ackman - Report: Harvard tries to “smooth things over” with Silicon Valley following terrible antisemitism controversy - The Hard News Daily
Bill Ackman sent a letter to former President Claudine Gay on Nov. 4 following her congressional testimony. (Chris Ratcliffe/Michael Fein/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

 

Following Hamas’s historic assault on Israel, pressure mounted on Harvard’s money management.

Donors and investors have cut ties with Harvard because of what they perceived as the school’s inadequate reaction to the attacks and antisemitism during Gay’s tenure.

In a long letter about antisemitism on campus, billionaire Bill Ackman wrote to his alma mater’s previous president and then made it public on social media.

“I am writing this letter to you regretfully,” Ackman tweeted to X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, on November 4th.

The previous president of Harvard, Gay, was criticized by the hedge fund manager for conveying “a clear message that the eliminationism and anti-Semitic statements of the protesters are permissible on campus.”

 

 

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