Ken Griffin Calls Campus Protests 'Performative Art,' Urges To Uphold 'Western Values:' 'We're Not Actually Helping Palestinians Or Israelis'

Benzinga · 05/13 10:18

In the face of ongoing campus unrest, Ken Griffin, founder of the $63 billion U.S. hedge fund Citadel, has urged Harvard University to uphold “Western values.”

What Happened: Griffin, a major donor to his alma mater, voiced his concerns over what he perceives as a “cultural revolution” in U.S. education, the Financial Times reported on Sunday. He believes this shift has resulted in a loss of focus on the pursuit of truth and knowledge. He criticized the narrative on college campuses, which he says has devolved into claims of systemic racism and injustice.

"The narrative on some of our college campuses has devolved to the level that the system is rigged and unfair, and that America is plagued by systemic racism and systemic injustice," he said in an interview.

"The protests on college campuses are almost like performative art, and we're not actually helping Palestinians or Israelis with these surreal protests.”

This comes amid violent protests against Israel’s war in Gaza at universities including Harvard, Stanford, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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Why It Matters: Griffin’s comments come in the wake of intense scrutiny and debate over university governance and their handling of protests. Earlier this year, former Harvard President Larry Summers expressed dissatisfaction with the university’s response to anti-Semitism on campus. Griffin, who has previously criticized Harvard’s diversity, equity, and inclusion policies, called for the university to stand for meritocracy and embrace Western values.

Griffin’s influence as one of Harvard’s largest donors in its modern history, and his potential future move into politics, make his views significant. His comments also highlight the ongoing debate about the influence of wealthy donors on US universities. Earlier this year, Griffin promised to stop donating to Harvard, calling students “whiny snowflakes.”

These events have had repercussions beyond the campus, with recruiters expressing discomfort about hiring graduates from Ivy League colleges due to their increasing political participation. This comes at a time when universities like Columbia have initiated the suspension of pro-Palestinian activists who did not comply with the university's request to dismantle a protest camp on campus.

The situation escalated further when the New York Police Department stormed Columbia University’s campus in riot gear to quell pro-Palestine protests.

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