Students at Boston University chanted “pay your writers” as Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav gave the commencement address at the institution’s graduation Sunday, amid a writers’ strike that has been impacting the television and film industry.
Zaslav graduated from BU’s law school in 1985 and was being given an honorary degree. On Sunday, he told students how important it is to be respectful and kind. But he paused several times as some students booed, chanted and turned their backs.
Before the program began, about 200 people were protesting outside Nickerson Field, the graduation venue, holding up signs that read “Protect Residuals Not CEOs” and “Private Jets But No Fair Wages,” BU Today reported.
The school received backlash earlier this month when a day after the Writers Guild of America went on strike on May 2 it announced its decision to have Zaslav as the commencement speaker.
This is the union’s first strike in 15 years, as it was unable to reach a deal with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which represents major studios, such as Discovery-Warner, Netflix, Amazon, Apple, Disney, Paramount, Sony and NBC Universal. Writers are advocating for better pay, improved residuals from streaming and guidelines about how artificial intelligence could affect writer’s rooms.
“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.