“We don’t want you here,” “Pay your writers,” “Shut up, Zaslav” and “F**k you, you piece of sh*t” were among some of the choice chants Boston University students shouted at Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav during his commencement address last Saturday. Their actions were all in support of the Writer’s Guild of America Strike at the precipice of its 4th week.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the hostile cries were launched when BU President Robert A. Brown introduced Zaslav during the 150th commencement exercises at Nickerson Field. As Brown spoke to Zaslav’s “passion for documenting and sharing the human story on a global scale,” booing immediately began.
The cries would ebb and flow during Zaslav’s 20-minute speech while accepting an honorary degree.
Students from BU’s College of Communications, which houses its film and TV program, as well as the College of Fine Arts and some enrolled in the College of Arts and Sciences, were among those who had participated in the protest outside and inside of the stadium.
At one point, as the WBD CEO joked about giving students life advice, he earned even more boos and had to repeatedly stop his speech until the waves of cries temporarily died. He also discussed finding financial success as a lawyer but not feeling fulfilled because he didn’t love what he was doing, encouraging the crowd to pursue their passion. But when he noted, “I was making good money, I was feeling really great,” the crowd responded with another wave of angry chants and boos.
“Some people will be looking for a fight,” Zaslav told BU students around halfway through his speech, to a mix of boos and cheers. “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.”
“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 in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter. “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.”
The speech earned an uproar, with some students laughing while others continued to shout or even express shock.
Both commencement events were headed up and driven by Boston University’s YDSA group, with the outside picket supported and coordinated with WGA East, Boston DSA and the DSA-LA Hollywood.