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Mazzei Minute: 10/26/23

Money talks, and sometimes, it just plain walks. Donors to top universities like Harvard and Penn have recently decided to quit giving money to their alma maters, according to a story by the Wall Street Journal.

In the aftermath of the horrific terrorist attacks by Hamas upon Israel, the leadership at Penn was slow to condemn the barbaric violence—and the eventual public statement did not even condemn Hamas.

“I was just pushed over the edge by the equivocation of the response,” lamented David Magerman, a Penn alum and hedge-fund veteran who has donated millions to Penn—but has now cut his ties to the university.

After years of growing concerns and disenchantment with the schools over a leftward political shift, big donors believe the radical left at these universities have finally gone too far.

At Harvard, more than 30 student groups signed a letter laying blame for Hamas' violence on Israel's treatment of Palestinians. In public statements lamenting the tragedy, Harvard President Claudine Gay failed to address the anti-Semitism head on. Retail billionaire Leslie Wexner, who previously gave more than $42 million to the school, subsequently announced that he would be cutting ties with Harvard as a result.

According to the Council for Advancement and Support of Education, million-dollar-and-up donors account for 57% of total donations to U.S. universities. In the case of Penn, 17% of the annual academic budget comes from its endowment.

“I have long been dismayed at the drift away from true freedom of thought, expression and speech at our best universities, very much including my beloved alma mater Penn,” hedge fund manager Cliff Asness wrote to the Penn University president. “I do not like making something like this about money—but it appears to be one of the only paths that has any hope of mattering.”

When money walks, maybe people at these universities that aren’t addressing anti-Semitism and true freedom of expression will finally listen.


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