Students at Boston University overwhelmingly booed Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav on Sunday during his 2023 graduation commencement speech.
According to The Hollywood Reporter (THR), students began booing Zaslav as university president Robert A. Brown began his introductory speech, hailing Zaslav for his passion for “documenting and sharing the human story on a global scale.”
“The chants and booing immediately picked up, followed by what would become a constant ebb and flow of calls throughout his 20-minute speech,” noted THR. “That included screams, shouts and chants from the hundreds of seniors seated in the field as 7,000 degrees were conferred in nearly 350 fields of study.”
“Before Zaslav took the stage, an airplane banner with the message ‘David Zaslav Pay Your Writers’ could also be seen flying above the picket and commencement exercises at Nickerson Field,” it added.
Chants such as “We don’t want you here,” “Pay your writers,” and “Shut up, Zaslav” erupted from the crowd. Zaslav even had to stop his speech at several points until the chants died down. One particularly raucous moment occurred when the CEO discussed the success he found as a lawyer
“I was making good money, I was feeling really great,” he said, which prompted another round of boos.
Zaslav pushed on and eventually focused on the importance of getting along with others in a professional environment.
“Some people will be looking for a fight,” Zaslav said. “But don’t be the one they find it with. Focus on good people’s qualities. In my career, I’ve seen so many talented people lose opportunities or jobs because they couldn’t get along with others.”
“You can’t choose the people you work with. Figure out what you like about a person — there’s always something — and do whatever it takes to navigate their challenges. We all have them,” he added.
Zaslav getting hit with a Pay Your Writers chant in Boston. This is so good. pic.twitter.com/00pL4ahAqZ— Mike Scollins (@mikescollins) May 21, 2023
Zaslav loudly booed at BU commencement. Although I’m incapable of being happy, this comes close. pic.twitter.com/qtIaMJJaFb— Shawn Wines WGA Captain (@shawnwines) May 21, 2023
In a statement to THR, Zaslav said that hopes “the strike is resolved soon and in a way that they feel recognizes their value.”
“I am grateful to my alma mater, Boston University, for inviting me to be part of today’s commencement and for giving me an honorary degree,” Zaslav said. “As I have often said, I am immensely supportive of writers and hope the strike is resolved soon and in a way that they feel recognizes their value.”
Vanessa Barlett, a graduating senior in the university’s College of Fine Arts, said she wanted to show solidarity with the writers.
“I’m in the same college as a bunch of film and TV kids,” Barlett told THR. “I’m friends with a lot of people in the College of Fine Arts, people who are in the theater arts program, so having a sense of solidarity is very important to me.”
Video and pics from my IATSE friend at the BU Graduation / Zaslav picket in Boston. Big turnout with loads of different unions attending.#wga#wgaStrong#wgaStrike pic.twitter.com/qpe2KCXgAf— Calvin Starnes (@CalvinStarnesOG) May 21, 2023
The Writers Guild of America East tweeted the protests were not meant to disrupt the graduation event for all seniors.
“The picket is in no way meant to stop students, families, or faculty from attending the graduation ceremony, or to disrupt the ceremony,” WGA East tweeted. “The toolkit provides context for the picket and ideas for silently supporting the writers’ strike. Thank you for the solidarity.”
*BOSTON PICKET ALERT*— Writers Guild of America, East (@WGAEast) May 21, 2023
Today, May 21, beginning at 11:30am, join the #WGStrike picket of Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav at B.U.'s commencement. #BU2023 #ProudToBU #WGAStrong #1u
Grad/Studen Solidarity Kit: https://t.co/YWUiwWyrJ8 pic.twitter.com/noLt1UDlmN
Paul Roland Bois joined Breitbart News in 2021. He also directed the award-winning feature film, EXEMPLUM, which can be viewed on Tubi, Google Play, YouTube Movies, or Vimeo on Demand. Follow him on Twitter @prolandfilms or Instagram @prolandfilms.