Boston University president accuses students who booed Warner Bros. CEO of ‘cancelling culture’


Boston University President Robert Brown released a statement on Wednesday condemning graduate students boos and screams with David Zaslav, CEO of Warner Bros. Discovery, during the opening ceremony.

Zaslav, a Boston University graduate, was asked to deliver an commencement speech for the class of 2023 on May 21, sparking controversy among the student body as well as members of the Writers Guild of America East and West on strike for almost a month.

In protest and in support of the WGA, several students turned away from Zaslav as he delivered his speech, and some shouted “Pay your writers!” Striking film and television writers and allies just outside the stadium protested with pickets, screaming, “No wages, no pages!”

“I am also disappointed by the indifference shown to our many guests – particularly parents and grandparents – who have traveled from near and far to celebrate the achievement of a dear relative,” Brown said in an interview opinion On Wednesday.

He added, “The willingness to spoil the occasion for these literally thousands of guests to not only have something to say but also literally prevent the speaker from getting their message across was painful and embarrassing to watch.”

Brown described the students’ actions as “appallingly rude and willfully abusive towards Mr. Zaslav” as well as an attempt to “implement” an “escape culture”. He added that leading up to the ceremony, he received hundreds of protest emails that specifically included the hashtag “cancel” to prevent Zaslav from speaking.

“Attempting to silence a speaker with obscene shouts is a means of gaining power, not reason, and is contrary to a university’s mission and goals,” Brown said in the statement.

After the ceremony at Boston University, Zaslav expressed his support for the striking writers.

“I am grateful to my alma mater, Boston University, for inviting me to attend today’s ceremony and awarding me an honorary doctorate. As I have said many times before, I offer my utmost support to the writers and I hope that the strike will be settled soon in a way that they recognize as their worth,” Zaslav said in the statement WBUR-FM.

More than 11,000 film and television writers across the country strike on May 2 for the first time in 15 years after the WGA failed to secure a deal with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) before the contract deadline. Almost a month later, writers are still on strike demanding fair pay, sustainable working conditions and safeguards against the use of artificial intelligence. (Unionized HuffPost employees are members of WGA East.)

Brown noted in his statement that the decision to name Zaslav as the opening speaker was made well before the May 2 strike began. It was reported that Zaslav would speak at the ceremony triggered criticism and a online campaign by students, alumni, the WGA and other unions.

But the college didn’t change its decision. A spokesman for Boston University had said HuffPost earlier this month that there was “no change of plan” regarding the ceremony.

“Currently, 11,500 WGA members across the country are on strike because companies – including Warner Bros. Discovery – refuse to negotiate a fair contract that meets the authors’ reasonable demands for pay, residual benefits and the existential threat that AI poses to workers , into account.” The union said in one opinion. “It is shameful that in the midst of a campaign to save the future of work, Boston University is using a graduation ceremony to honor someone who wants to destroy their students’ prospects of building sustainable careers.”

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