Protesters call out billionaire Bill Ackman's campaign to oust former Harvard president Claudine Gay

Crystal Cranmore Image
Thursday, January 4, 2024
Protest over resignation of Harvard President Claudine Gay
Crystal Cranmore has the story.

MIDTOWN, Manhattan (WABC) -- Protesters are calling out a hedge fund billionaire for his comments against now former Harvard President Claudine Gay, who just resigned over allegations of plagiarism and antisemitism on the school's campus.

Reverend Al Sharpton led the picket outside Bill Ackman's office in Midtown.

Ackman, a Harvard alum, led a campaign to oust Gay, the university's first Black president, taking issue with the university's Diversity, Equity and Inclusion policies in its search for a new president.

To Gay's supporters, the resignation matters because it shows how vulnerable people of color can be to accusations rooted in racism.

Gay resigned following accusations of plagiarism in her academic work, which she has denied.

She also faced backlash for how she handled antisemitism on campus following the Oct. 7 attack on Israel.

Gay's response to questioning during a Congressional testimony last month prompted outrage. When asked whether calls for the genocide of Jews violate Harvard's rule of bullying and harassment, Gay responded it can be, depending on the context.

Some Jewish groups say her resignation matters because it means she was held accountable for her comments.

Gay supporters say the accusations of plagiarism, pushed largely by conservatives, were rooted in racism, and that in itself can have devastating effects.

"Because I support DEI, diversity and equity in businesses and schools, and the man who is I think in this building is the main billionaire investor who's behind taking it down," said Karen Tay said on why she was protesting. "This was the first Black president of Harvard, come on. Look at her record, look at her whole record, she's not against anybody."

In a statement, Dr. Gay says she resigned "so that our community can navigate this moment of extraordinary challenge with a focus on the institution rather than any individual."

Ackman is also calling for members of the school's board to step down over their support of Gay.

Eyewitness News reached out to Ackman's office for a comment, but have not heard back yet.

ALSO READ | Harvard President Claudine Gay resigns amid plagiarism accusations, congressional testimony

Harvard University President Claudine Gay has resigned, she announced on Tuesday, after facing backlash for comments on antisemitism to Congress.


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