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Nearly 200 Protest BU’s Commencement Speaker, David Zaslav, amidst Hollywood Writers Strike WGA strikers criticize BU for having the Warner Bros. executive speak while writers fight for fair wages

COMMENCEMENT 2023

Nearly 200 Protest BU’s Commencement Speaker, David Zaslav, amidst Hollywood Writers Strike WGA strikers criticize BU for having the Warner Bros. executive speak while writers fight for fair wages

Supporters of the writers strike gather on Comm Ave to protest the 2023 Boston University Commencement speaker, David Zaslav (LAW’85), CEO of Warner Bros. Discovery.

It wasn’t all smiles, pomp, and circumstance at Boston University’s All-University Commencement ceremony on Sunday. Well before the program at Nickerson Field started at 1 pm, a group of nearly 200 protesters had gathered in front of Agganis Way along Commonwealth Avenue to voice their opposition to the 2023 Commencement speaker, BU alum and entertainment mogul David Zaslav (LAW’85), the CEO and president of Warner Bros. Discovery.

As graduates in cap and gown filed toward Nickerson Field under bright sunny skies, they were flanked on one side by BU and Boston police and marching protesters on the other. Demonstrators bearing signs reading, “Protect Residuals Not CEOs,” and, “Private Jets But No Fair Wages,” marched in a circle, with call-and-response chants like, “No Wages/No Pages.” Cars honked in support, underscored by the occasional “go home” or “get out of the way” muttered by graduates and their families as they walked past.

“I think they should be protesting if they see that our Commencement speaker is this guy,” said Megan Walsh (Questrom’23).

Opposition to Zaslav (LAW’85) as the speaker at the University’s 150th Commencement began almost immediately after his name was announced on  May 3—one day after the Writers Guild of America began its first strike in 15 years.

The WGA has singled out Zaslav, as one of the nation’s highest-earning film and television executives whose oversight includes HBO Max and Discovery+, as the movement’s primary antagonist in their fight for improved wages. The guild’s main demand is fair pay for their work, which belies the complexities of Hollywood’s pay structure for film and TV writers, particularly when it comes to streaming media. Striking writers claim that streaming services have steadily robbed them of fair compensation and job security. 

Protesters chant in opposition to Commencement speaker, film and TV executive David Zaslav, on Sunday, May 21.

“I spent a lot of time here and I learned from a lot of great faculty members who themselves are WGA members,” said one of the protesters, Lauren Daly (COM’22) of New York, who currently works as a TV writer. “There are a lot of students in this graduation ceremony that have graduated this weekend that are looking to go into film and television, and people like Zaslav are fundamentally preventing young writers from establishing themselves.”

“I’m very disappointed in BU for this choice of speaker at this time,” David Shore of California, a WGA member and a Sunday protester who served on the negotiating committee prior to the strike, told BU Today. “I find it a very strange statement that the University is making by having this speaker here today.” 

“Zaslav makes something in the hundreds of millions per year, which is not far off from what 11,000 writers are asking for [pay] for three years,” said Annie Stamell of Maine, a WGA East member who helped check in strikers at the Boston Playwrights’ Theatre on Sunday. “He’s also overseen this massive [streaming] merger and, with that as his goal, it reveals that his true customers are not actually consumers of content, but shareholders.”

Zaslav did not address the protest during his Commencement address, which also saw a plane fly overhead trailing a banner that said, “DAVID ZASLAV PAY YOUR WRITERS.” He was forced to pause a few times as students occasionally shouted out. In interviews in recent weeks, he has insisted that TV executives are sad to see empty writers’ rooms and he hopes the strike can be ended quickly through negotiations.

“In order to create great storytelling, we need great writers, and we need the whole industry to work together,” he said in an interview with CNBC’s Squawk Box. “And everybody deserves to be paid fairly, so our number one focus is, let’s try and get this resolved.”

Graduates Seth Helman (COM’23) and Sydney Shore (MET’23) join the protesters outside the 2023 Boston University Commencement ceremony.

Calls to picket the 2023 Commencement ceremony were made on social media in the days and weeks leading up to Sunday. Picketers included BU students and alums, members of the WGA, and local unions. Some Class of 2023 graduates opted out of attending Commencement in favor of the protest, which stretched from the Playwrights’ Theatre across Agganis Way in an informal picket line of marchers, as students in their red gowns walked past with family and friends. 

“Most of my friends are going in, but I do expect to see some other BU students out here,” said Annie Mayne (COM’23), who wore her cap and gown while protesting. “I was disappointed to hear people at the COM graduation not understand what the issue was, but I also understand a lot of people had family travel really far to come. It’s a decision you have to make—but for me, it was pretty easy.”

In an email to the Daily Free Press, President Robert Brown stated that Zaslav’s “accomplishments are worthy of our recognition,” but that BU “fully respect[s] the right of the WGA to seek the best possible compensation through the collective bargaining process.” 

“It is not in keeping with our policy for free and open speech to disinvite a speaker to indicate support to a party in a labor dispute,” he wrote.

Nevertheless, some protesters felt strongly that BU should have done just that.

“Whether or not BU intended [to send a message], they’ve certainly poked a hornet’s nest,” said Nathan Phillips, a professor of Earth and environment at the College and Graduate School of Arts & Sciences, who joined the demonstration after the ceremony had ended. “I applaud the people here who are asserting their rights, as workers, to fair wages and fair treatment.”

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Pov: A Lesson From Bu’s 150Th Commencement

POV: A Lesson from BU’s 150th Commencement

Voices & Opinion

POV: A Lesson from BU’s 150th Commencement President Brown writes: “Our students were not picking a fight. They were attempting to implement the cancel culture”

On May 21 I officiated at my 18th and final Commencement ceremony as president of Boston University. It was an unruly affair. David Zaslav, president and CEO of Warner Bros. Discovery and our alumnus, was our Commencement speaker and an honorary degree recipient, invited long before the ongoing strike by the Writers Guild of America (WGA) began on May 2. Not surprisingly, there were protesters both outside and inside our ceremony, as the leaders of the media business are at the focus of the labor dispute.

Some graduating students stood and turned their backs to the speaker and displayed signs. There were organized chants imploring Mr. Zaslav to pay his writers. For a university committed to free speech, protests are appropriate and common. The right to protest and freely express strongly held convictions is essential to sustaining the liberal democracy that we enjoy.

But what we witnessed on Nickerson Field during Commencement veered, regrettably, in a different direction. A handful of students shouted obscenities at Mr. Zaslav. I flinched, as my reaction harkened back to my teen years, over half a century ago, on the south side of San Antonio, Tex. In that era, shouting the words that I heard from the field would be the precursor to a fistfight. I can’t imagine how Mr. Zaslav felt hearing these obscenities directed at him. I have apologized to Mr. Zaslav for the behavior of these students.

The students who were appallingly coarse and deliberately abusive to Mr. Zaslav were entitled to attend Commencement because they were being awarded degrees that they earned from Boston University. They sought to make a statement, out of passionate conviction, but in the moment, they forgot that in a liberal democracy, personal autonomy and freedom of speech come with responsibilities. One responsibility, particularly in an institution for which freedom of speech is the oxygen that sustains our mission, is respect for the speech rights of others. The deliberate effort to silence a speaker is at odds with this fundamental value. I am disappointed that some members of our graduating student body seem painfully unaware—or perhaps even hostile to—this idea.

I am also disappointed at the insensitivity to our many guests—especially parents and grandparents—who came from far and wide to celebrate the success of a cherished relative. The willingness to spoil the occasion for these literally thousands of guests to not only make a point, but also literally prevent the speaker from conveying his message, was painful and embarrassing to witness. I would stress that from my vantage point—and that of others—the individuals behaving badly constituted a small minority. But that fact does not diminish my disappointment.

On reflection, it seems to me that the incivility on Nickerson Field is indicative of the divisions in our country. People shouting anonymously at each other, accomplishing nothing but feeling gratified for doing so, while generating material to post on social media. In our specific case the shouters infringed on the rights of others—to be heard or, more simply, to celebrate a milestone for a new graduate in a ceremony not disfigured with obscenities. We must do better and be a place where freedom of speech and the vital instrument of lawful protest can coexist and foster every individual’s sense of belonging.

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Commencement Weekend 2014: What To Do

Commencement Weekend 2014: What to Do Champagne, comedy, and a farewell dinner

This weekend nearly 20,000 people will arrive on campus for Boston University’s 141st Commencement ceremonies. Three days of celebratory events for graduating students, friends, and families will culminate with the All-University ceremony at 1 p.m. on Sunday, May 18, at Nickerson Field.

While some events—like the riverboat cruises on the Charles, BU Night at the Pops, and the Encore Party—are sold out, many others have tickets available. Online registration has ended for most of the activities, but you can purchase tickets on the fourth floor of Warren Towers, 700 Commonwealth Ave., from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. today and 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. tomorrow, Saturday May 17. Tickets for the champagne reception will also be available at the door.

Before beginning the celebrations, graduates should pick up their caps and gowns at Barnes & Noble at BU. Bachelor’s and master’s degree candidates must purchase their graduation attire, but doctoral candidates have the option to rent. All rented items must be returned by Sunday, May 25, to avoid late fees. The University will withhold transcripts for any graduate who does not return rented garb.

BU will have parking facilities available throughout the weekend, but visitors are urged to use the free shuttle bus service between Kenmore Square and the Track & Tennis Center, 100 Ashford St., to avoid traffic and congestion. The free shuttle runs from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. today, 10 a.m. to 1 a.m. tomorrow, Saturday, May 17, and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Sunday, May 18. Guests may also take the MBTA Green Line B trolley, which travels along Commonwealth Avenue. Check here for MBTA maps and schedules.

Parking for those with disabilities will be available throughout the weekend for students and guests attending individual school and college convocations and other Commencement-related events—no reservation or passes are required. More information about disability services is available here. For Sunday’s All-University Commencement ceremony, the Babcock Street garage, 278 Babcock St., will be available only to those who have a special Babcock Street Commencement Day parking pass. General Commencement parking will not be permitted in this lot on Sunday, and Babcock Street will be closed to general traffic after 9:30 a.m.

Security will be tight at all Commencement venues throughout the weekend. BU Police have issued strict guidelines for graduates and guests. Find more information here.

Friday, May 16 Individual School and College Convocations

Schools and colleges will hold individual convocations at various times and locations throughout the weekend, starting Friday, May 16.

Senior Champagne Reception

Here’s your chance to toast the Class of 2014! This reception, hosted by the 2014 Senior Week Committee and Dean of Students Kenneth Elmore (SED’87), is open to graduating students, family, friends, faculty, and administrators. The celebration is from 4 to 6 p.m. at the Track & Tennis Center, 100 Ashford St. Tickets are $12 and can be purchased at the door. There is no limit to the number of tickets students can buy.

22nd Annual Comedy Night

Laugh your cap and gowns off with Boston’s funniest comics. Boston University alum Greg Fitzsimmons (CGS’87, CAS’89), who has been featured on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, The Late Show with Dave Letterman, and Late Night with Conan O’Brien, headlines this 90-minute show, which begins at 8 p.m. in the CGS Auditorium, 871 Commonwealth Ave. Admission is $20.

Saturday, May 17 Individual School and College Convocations

Schools and colleges will hold individual convocations at various times and locations throughout the weekend, starting Friday, May 16.

Celebration 2014 Dinner Sunday, May 18 Individual School and College Convocations

Schools and colleges will hold individual convocations at various times and locations throughout the weekend, starting Friday, May 16.

Baccalaureate Service All-University Commencement

The 141st All-University Commencement ceremony begins at 1 p.m. at Nickerson Field, rain or shine. This year’s Commencement speaker is Deval Patrick, governor of Massachusetts. There are no tickets required and no reserved seating, except for disabled guests. Seats are first-come, first-served. Nickerson stands fill quickly, so guests are urged to arrive by noon. All guests and bags will be screened. The ceremony will run approximately two hours.

Commencement Webcast

For those unable to attend the All-University Commencement at Nickerson Field, BU will be streaming the entire ceremony live via webcast starting at 1 p.m. Listeners can also hear the ceremony live on WBUR, 90.9 FM, BU’s National Public Radio station.

Speakers

Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick will deliver the University’s 141st Commencement Address.

MIT molecular biologist Nancy Hopkins will deliver the Baccalaureate Address.

More information about Commencement can be found on the Commencement website.

Kat Sorensen can be reached at [email protected].

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Tronsmart Mega Pro Portable Speaker Review

There are tons of Bluetooth speakers out there, making it difficult to review one and try to differentiate it from the rest. I had a chance to try out the Tronsmart Mega Pro portable speaker, and it didn’t disappoint.

Looks and Feel

When I took the speaker out of the box, the very first impression was that it is very heavy. Being a portable speaker, I would expect it to be something small and light. Weighing at 1780g and with a size of 250 x 82 x 104mm, it is not considered light, small and portable to me. I would think twice before I put it in my bag to bring it with me.

At the top of the speaker is the touch control. The buttons, ordered from left to right, are “Voice assistant,” “Mode,” “TWS stereo,” “Equalizer,” “Previous Track,” “Playing,” “Next Track” and “NFC.” Right below the buttons is a Volume slider.

At the back are the various ports and the Power button. There is an AUX input, USB-A, USB-C ports and a TF/SD card slot for playing music from a card.

What I really like is the rubberized bottom. You can just place it on the table with little chance of knocking it down or moving it accidentally.

Specifications

ModelTronsmart Mega ProBluetooth5.0Bluetooth ProfileA2DP V1.3, ACRCP V1.4, HFP V1.6Bluetooth transmissionUp to 20m / 66ft (open area)Li-Battery Capability10400mAhWaterproofIPX5Power SupplyDC 5V/3A, via Type-C portFrequency Range20Hz – 20000HzBatteryBuilt-in lithium battery, 10400mAhPlaytimeUp to 10 hours (on a 50% volume)Talk timeUp to 20 hours (on a 70% volume)StandbyAbout 24 monthsCharging time4 hoursDimensions9.84 x 3.23 x 4.09 inches / 250 x 82 x 104mmWeight1780g / 62.78 oz

Features

To say that this is just a normal Bluetooth speaker is an understatement. Despite how it looks, it packed more punches than any other Bluetooth speaker.

First of all, it packs a 60W woofer and 2 side tweeters with 1 passive bass radiator and 2 amplifiers in the speaker, which ensure that it can deliver good bass and output.

It also comes with three modes of Equalizer effects. The default is Deep Bass. Pressing the EQ button once will activate 3D bass (green light) and pressing it twice will activate the Vocal bass (blue light).

The huge battery pack (10400mAh) within ensures that it can last a long time (up to 10 hours) before you need a recharge. It can also be used as a power bank to charge your mobile phone.

Its IPX5 rating allows some water to be splashed on it, but don’t bring it into the pool.

The Tronsmart Mega Pro also supports Siri, Google Assistant and Cortana, though it only supports answer and end call function.

Performance

Getting it to work is very easy. Simply power it on and pair it with your device. The pairing is fast and effortless. If your phone comes with an NFC feature, you can easily pair the speaker with the phone and NFC, too.

When playing music on it, the volume slider doesn’t work as well as it should. There seems to be a maximum limit, and I can’t make it any louder beyond a certain level. On the other hand, if I control the volume from the device, the volume can get really loud. With a sound meter, it recorded a 86dB at its maximum volume, which is considered really loud. Even at 50 percent volume, it consistently hovered at 60 – 70db.

The bass effect of the speaker is really good. The Equalizer setting makes quite a big difference to the music being played. When playing Santorini by Yanni, I found that the 3D bass gives the best sound effect. For a movie, the Vocal bass gives the best sound effect.

The ability to charge your phone is a bonus. While there is no quick-charging option, I am still able to charge my phone from 30% to 100% in two hours.

If you have two of these speakers, you can pair them up with the TWS stereo mode and use them as a pair of stereo speakers. With both speakers in close proximity and powered on, press the TWS button on one of them, and it will pair with the other speaker. The active speaker will have a flashing light on the TWS button.

Wrapping Up

Other than it being a portable speaker, this is a really great speaker. Be it the specifications or performance, both are impressive. If you love heavy bass to your music, you will like this speaker.

The Tronsmart Mega Pro speaker is priced at $89.99 and is available for purchase from Aliexpress, Geekbuying, and Amazon.

Damien

Damien Oh started writing tech articles since 2007 and has over 10 years of experience in the tech industry. He is proficient in Windows, Linux, Mac, Android and iOS, and worked as a part time WordPress Developer. He is currently the owner and Editor-in-Chief of Make Tech Easier.

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Meet Bu’s New Falcon Chicks

Meet BU’s New Falcon Chicks StuVi II home to birds of prey

The brood of chicks consists of two males and one female. Photos by Mike Spencer

A pair of local BU parents is preparing to become empty nesters. Literally.

We’re talking about the family of peregrine falcons that reside high atop BU’s 26-story StuVi II. Last month, three chicks hatched and took their first flights last week, and soon will begin hunting their own pigeons and rats and looking for new quarters.

BU’s peregrine falcon family was fathered by “Zorro,” whose comings and goings have been closely documented by a community of passionate local bird watchers since 2010. He was formerly spotted at Boston’s Children’s Hospital, along with an unidentified female partner and chicks. Two years later, he was spotted again, this time on a StuVi II ledge, possibly with the same female, and with two new chicks.

In early June, local bird enthusiast David Gates noticed that the parents had three new chicks, a big deal since peregrine falcons are still considered endangered in Massachusetts. Last fall, however, the state’s Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (MassWildlife) and the Fisheries and Wildlife Board recommended the birds’ status be changed to “threatened” because of an increased number of falcon nesting pairs in the state.

After his discovery, Gates reported the news to MassWildlife, noting that the now seven-year-old Zorro was the proud father. MassWildlife sent out a team to band and carefully examine the new family members, and BU Today was invited, along with several local falcon enthusiasts, to witness the event.

Before going out onto the StuVi II roof, Tom French, MassWildlife Natural Heritage and Endangered Species program assistant director, warned the group to be careful. “I want to go quietly up to the box so I can catch the chicks,” he said. “Sometimes the parents are very aggressive.” Out on the roof, the group could hear the adult falcons’ cries and see them circling anxiously overhead. “Don’t worry, that’s just normal behavior from mom and dad when anyone comes to band their chicks,” assured local birder Ursula Goodine.

The fastest flying birds in the world, peregrine falcons can dive at a speed of 200 miles per hour. Goodine and crew stood on lookout and held up a broom to ward off the parents from diving and attacking French as he scooped up the chicks. French was hoping to catch the mother with a net and band her, too.

The group stood under an awning while French quietly approached the nest. He explained that falcons don’t build traditional nests, and in nature often nest on cliffs. With BU’s permission, in 2013 French had placed a box on the side of StuVi II, hoping that if Zorro and his companion returned to nest, the box would help protect the nest and eggs from the elements. It wasn’t until this year that the falcons used the box for their newly hatched chicks.

Next, he carefully reached for three of the bags and took out a chick from each. With their gray faces, yellow feet, and fuzzy white bodies, they resembled Furby toys. Not yet able to fly, they stood, quietly at first, a few inches high, then began lightly squawking and hopping.

“Even as chicks, it’s amazing how deep they can dig their talons in,” French said as he picked each one up carefully to fit a metal band around its leg. MassWildlife bands as many peregrine chicks as possible each year, which involves fitting a small metal tag with unique state and federal numbers around the bird’s leg. The identification numbers help scientists track birds’ migration, age, population growth, reproductive status, and more, he said. The bands are “field readable,” meaning that a bird watcher can read the numbers using binoculars and then record them to keep track of each individual bird. That’s how Gates was able to identify Zorro as the father of the current brood.

Timing is critical. “If we waited another week we couldn’t do this—they’d be all over me,” French said as he secured the bands. He estimated that the chicks were about three-and-a-half weeks old. “Feathers are incased, blood feathers, dandruff is sheath,” he announced, as a coworker recorded his observations. “I want this banding to be right, because once it’s on there, it’s on for life,” and with that, he secured the metal rings around each bird’s leg. A quick examination told him that there were two males and one female.

After some photos were taken, French placed each bird back in its bag and returned them to the safety of the nest. The parents continued to swoop and squawk overhead until the visitors left.

The three chicks have been on “fledge watch” for the last few weeks, and finally took their first, tentative flights on June 29. Occasionally, chicks can land on the ground or get stuck, and if that happens, members of the BU community are asked to call MassWildlife for assistance.

BU has been home to other wildlife over the years: bats, skunks, opossums, raccoons, wild turkeys, and hawks. Nearby neighborhoods have on occasion reported sightings of coyotes, deer, and even a black bear.

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Presale Showdown: Ypredict ($Ypred) Vs. Hollywood X Pepe ($Hxpe)

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Therefore, for investors looking for a presale with the highest potential returns, $HXPE seems to be the more promising option. However, as with all investments, potential investors should conduct their research and assess their risk tolerance.

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