CUTV Board to Face Removal

Board of Directors to Undergo Vote of No Confidence After Contested Election

File Photo Elisa Barbier

Concordia University Television board of directors is facing a removal vote on Aug. 31 from its members after the disputed Annual General Assembly election last February.

In a petition signed by 50 members first sent on July 20, CUTV members Isaiah Martel-Wilson and Kuziwa Bwititi said members did not feel adequately represented by the current board of directors.

The petition claimed that the now-elected board members stacked the February elections with friends and colleagues in order to get enough votes. As per CUTV bylaws, eligible voters require a membership of at least two weeks at CUTV. The petition pointed to 23 of those members. Although all voters—except two—were eligible at the time of the elections, many questioned their legitimacy and allegiance to CUTV.

“Two weeks before the Annual General Meeting, we had seen kind of an increase in people coming in to sign up just randomly and we didn’t think too much of it,” said CUTV communications coordinator Jenny Cunningham. Cunningham added that it was only at the AGM that they realized those people only signed up in order to become eligible to vote.

Martel-Wilson and Bwititi came to this conclusion after they realized that the AGM was only known to long-standing members or from word of mouth. They added that having those members vote could potentially put CUTV’s interests at risk as they haven’t been part of productions and don’t know the current interests of the organization.

“How can people who have never been part of CUTV vote and be in charge of our organization?” Martel-Wilson said. “How do we, active members, not even know the people who are in charge of our organization?”

“I think this is called campaigning,” replied member of the board of directors, Samuel Miriello. “Everyone that voted at the AGM, except for two people, were valid CUTV members. They believed in our vision and they voted for us. There’s nothing wrong with that.”

Martel-Wilson and Bwititi claim there was also wrongdoing during the February general meeting, one being the past implication of the scrutineer.

The petition claimed that Mat Forget—who said himself to have been hired by CUTV staff in a message to The Link —volunteered to chair the meeting despite having a long-standing personal and professional relationship with three incoming board members: Martin Lukacs, Marcus Peters, and Samuel Miriello.

“I made my previous work at the [Concordia Student Union] with Marcus [Peters] known during the job interview—I was chair while sat on CSU council—and only met Samuel and Martin the evening of the AGM,” Forget said. “I did not volunteer to be chair, I was hired by CUTV staff.”

Furthermore, the petition claims the results were never shared to CUTV members despite many requests. Although Forget recognized that the number of votes for each candidate was never shared, he explained that the requests referred to in the petition were to collect ballots in order to recount them. However, he added, the ballots were numbered to verify members as they were signing up. Sharing ballots would have disclosed everyone’s votes.

In a message to The Link, Forget shared the results:

Board of directors election results. Graphic by Sheena Macmillan

Forget claimed that before sharing the newly elected board, he made sure to double-check and recount the votes cast.

The petition also refers to previous harassment, improper activities and psychological harassment by newly elected board member, Marcus Peters in 2018. Though the issue was resolved in 2019 with the mediatory concluding the situation was an issue of internal miscommunication, some members still believe there remain blank spots.

“We weren’t there when this happened, and at the last AGM, the people who were part of that whole debacle when he was on the board spoke up against him and spoke out about some of the things that were going on,” Martel-Wilson said. “That’s why we want to have this Special General Meeting—to get the full story.”

CUTV members are also worried about the board’s willingness to cooperate. Martel-Wilson and Bwititi said they thought the board was trying to prevent a SMG by any means necessary.

In an email thread, the board asked for the petition to be changed on two separate occasions to conform to the standards or properly issue a formal removal request. Although they seemed open to holding a SMG, the board sent an email titled “A big fight would damage CUTV—we can still try something else,” in which they answered the petition’s claims and suggested alternative discussion methods.

The email was sent to all members and staff except Martel-Wilson and Bwititi, the two according to Martel-Wilson and Bwititi.

Miriello said the initial petition was asking for a call to vote for a removal procedure. The board’s requests were to avoid such misunderstanding and proceed directly for a removal vote, he said.

Due to Martel-Wilson and Bwititi’s “lack of cooperation” in modifying the petition according to Miriello, the board went ahead and shared a modified version to all CUTV members without prior consultation. Soon after, Martel-Wilson and Bwititi’s lawyers contacted the board of directors on Aug. 12 referring to specific CUTV bylaws and Quebec’s Civil Code asserting the petition was fully legitimate in the first sent format.

On Aug. 13, Martel-Wilson and Bwititi received an answer from the board of director’s lawyers requesting changes similar to the previous ones by broadly referring to non-specific part of CUTV bylaws.

After weeks of back and forth between the board of directors and members, an SGM was called for Aug. 31.

Updated for clarity.