CUTV Board Suspends Executive Director

Suspension Addresses Station Members’ Concerns

  • CUTV Executive Director Laith Marouf, right, at a general assembly for the station in December. On Jan. 25 Marouf was suspended. Photo Leslie Schachter

Concordia University Television’s human resource issues have finally come to a head.

After a few months of citing staff conflicts, infighting and growing concerns from their membership, sources close to the station have confirmed that the provisional Board of Directors of CUTV has chosen to suspend Laith Marouf, the station’s executive director.

“All of the actions that we’ve taken in the past few weeks have been in response to concerns shared with us by members,” said provisional Board member Emily Campbell.

“We haven’t had a lot of people coming to the station lately because it wasn’t a great place to be,” she added. “We’re working very hard now to make it a safe, comfortable, fun and supportive working environment that everybody feels welcome in.”

For mostly legal reasons, the Board is severely restricted with regards to what they can say about the issue—and they won’t say much—but several sources close to the station have confirmed that Marouf was suspended Jan. 25, and will remain suspended for two weeks.

It’s unclear what the Board intends to do at the end of the two-week period, and they are not willing to elaborate on any of the terms of, or reasons for, Marouf’s suspension.

In the meantime, all members of CUTV staff are still being paid.

“All of the decisions made have come from a culmination of things,” said Campbell. “What we’re dealing with at the station is not just a conflict—it’s a crisis.”

“All of the decisions made have come from a culmination of things. What we’re dealing with at the station is not just a conflict—it’s a crisis.”
—Emily Campbell, CUTV Provisional Board member

Since the situation at CUTV began unraveling several months ago, members, staff and volunteers spoken to The Link about grievances and frustrations with Marouf, as well as the station’s management style in general, placing particular emphasis on the failings of its hierarchical structure.

William Ray has been involved with CUTV as an active volunteer for nearly four years, and though he spoke highly of Marouf’s ability to produce “brilliant work,” he took issue with Marouf’s management style.

“The issue really is his way of dealing with people, and a penchant he has for being very dictatorial,” said Ray.

“It drove a lot of people away. A lot of people did not feel comfortable working in the space around him. As a member, I feel that the Board had no choice.”

Campbell traced the beginnings of the staff and structure issue back to the height of the Quebec student movement last spring, when CUTV was receiving national and international acclaim for their live-streamed coverage of the daily demonstrations.

The organization ballooned in a very short time—the station was attracting new and eager members, local media attention and tens of thousands of dollars in donations.

The going was good and CUTV was in the spotlight. But when the protests stopped and funds began to dry up, it all came to a grinding halt.

“We were on such a roll, and then [the student movement] ended really abruptly, and the way the station was functioning was no longer sustainable,” said Campbell. “What happened was that we didn’t adapt to that change fast enough, and it led to this really horrible downfall of the station.”

Both Campbell and Ray echoed the same sentiment that the past few months have seen a sharp drop in member participation, and new members have stopped showing up to the station.

But since Friday, things might be changing.

“It’s only been a couple of days, but CUTV is now, for the first time, starting to live up to the promise of what it’s supposed to be,” said Ray. “Where people like me, the members, are setting the tone and the agenda. We feel like our contributions are valued. Before, that was not the case.”

The Link was unable to reach Marouf for comment by press time.

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