BU president denounces college students who heckled Warner Bros. CEO, takes intention at ‘cancel tradition’


College students who yelled obscenities at David Zaslav throughout BU’s graduation had been “appallingly coarse and intentionally abusive,” the universitys president stated.

Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav stands onstage whereas being launched earlier than delivering a graduation handle at Boston College, Sunday, Might 21, 2023, in Boston. AP Photograph/Steven Senne

Boston College’s president stated he has apologized to Warner Bros. Discovery head David Zaslav after the Hollywood mogul was met with “appallingly coarse and intentionally abusive” jeers and booing on the college’s Might 21 graduation.

BU President Robert A. Brown stated in an announcement Wednesday that he “flinched” as a “handful” of scholars shouted obscenities at Zaslav, who gave the college’s graduation handle amid an ongoing Writers Guild of America strike.

WGA members and their allies picketed outdoors the ceremony, and help for the strike continued on Nickerson Area as some college students turned their backs on Zaslav and waved pro-union indicators.

“If you wish to achieve success, you’re going to have to determine tips on how to get together with everybody. And that features tough folks,” Zaslav advised the graduates, pressured to pause at instances as the gang chanted “pay your writers.” 

“It was an unruly affair,” Brown summarized in his submit on BU At this time, including that the school invited Zaslav to talk and obtain an honorary diploma “lengthy earlier than” the writers’ strike started on Might 2.

He stated the obscenities he heard hurled at Zaslav introduced him again to his youth in San Antonio, Texas, when these phrases would have been “the precursor to a fistfight.”

“Our college students weren’t selecting a battle,” Brown continued. “They had been making an attempt to implement the cancel tradition that has change into all too prevalent on college campuses.”

Of their “passionate conviction,” the demonstrators “forgot that in a liberal democracy, private autonomy and freedom of speech include duties,” he stated. “One accountability, significantly in an establishment for which freedom of speech is the oxygen that sustains our mission, is respect for the speech rights of others.”

Making an attempt to silence a speaker goes in opposition to that worth, Brown asserted. 

“I’m dissatisfied that some members of our graduating pupil physique appear painfully unaware — or maybe even hostile to — this concept,” he added. 

The Writers Guild of America, East warned BU earlier this month to anticipate picketing throughout Zaslav’s handle.

In a earlier assertion, the union asserted that Warner Bros. Discovery and different media firms have “refused to ensure any degree of weekly employment in episodic tv, tried to pivot late evening writers to a day charge, stonewalled on free work on script revisions for screenwriters, and refused to even focus on our proposal on the existential risk AI poses to all writers.”

A graduating pupil yells out their displeasure whereas speaker David Zaslav provides his speech throughout Boston College’s one hundred and fiftieth commencement ceremony at Nickerson Area. – Matthew J. Lee/Globe Employees

Whereas Brown described protests as “applicable and customary” for a college dedicated to free speech, he voiced his disappointment at demonstrators’ “insensitivity” to oldsters, grandparents, and others who turned out to have a good time the graduates. 

“The willingness to spoil the event for these actually hundreds of friends to not solely make a degree, but in addition actually stop the speaker from conveying his message, was painful and embarrassing to witness,” he stated.

Brown, who introduced his retirement in September, concluded his assertion with a name for civility. 

“We should do higher and be a spot the place freedom of speech and the important instrument of lawful protest can coexist and foster each particular person’s sense of belonging,” he urged.