While college graduation ceremonies are typically filled with cheers, tears, and drunken groans from graduates who pregamed too hard and just want to get to their planned after-brunch, yesterday’s Boston University commencement heard some boos from the audience. The unfavorable roars thankfully weren’t directed at graduates, but instead the commencement speaker brought in by the university: Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav.
Amidst the ongoing writer’s strike, BU thought it would be a good idea to bring in their 1985 law school alum Zaslav, who just so happens to be one of the forefront bad guys on the studio side of the WGA strike.
For those unaware, the Writer’s Guild of America has been on strike since the beginning of May after failing to come to terms with major studios on a new contract. The focal point of the strike is low and non-existent residuals for writer’s who sell their work to streaming services. The day after the WGA began their boycott, Boston University announced CEO and head of Discovery+ David Zaslav as the speaker, causing major backlash from students and the WGA themselves. Despite no one actually paying for a Discovery+ subscription, the thought to even invite the man responsible was immediately criticized for being “inappropriate” and called “a poor decision” by the WGA East.
As a result, Sunday’s ceremony saw a pickett line of over 200 members of the WGA East at the entrance of Nickerson Field with signs that read such things like “Protect Residuals Not CEOs” and “Private Jets But No Fair Wages.” Even more so, Zaslav was forced to pause multiple times during his speech as to be heard over the enormous wave of boos being hurled towards him. Many students even turned their backs towards him as he delivered his speech.
The fact that BU thought this was a good idea is pretty absurd. Off the bat they should’ve assumed any student studying media looking to start a career in film and television would be upset, but even more than that this guy is an example of a greedy multi-millionaire who refuses to pay his employees. They basically got a real life Mr. Burns from The Simpsons to be the commencement speaker and were then shocked to see people were unhappy.
As someone who recently graduated with their commencement speaker being a classical trumpet player from the 80s, I can confidently say that for the most part only parents are listening to the commencement speech. That means just get someone uncontroversial. Maybe get radio legend and BU alum Howard Stern on the sticks, or lean into the strike the other way and get Seinfeld actor and king of residuals Jason Alexander to do it. Not only are they way more famous and likable, but they can actually write their own speech. With the strike going on, I’m sure Zaslav was forced to write his remarks himself, so maybe it’s a good thing the boos covered up whatever piece of crap he came up with.