CUTV General Assembly Approaches, But Questions Remain

Gabrielle Bouchard moderates one of CUTV’s member meetings in the basement of the SCPA building last week. CUTV will hold it’s official general assembly this Saturday. Photo Erin Sparks

This time next week, we could be looking at a new Concordia University Television.

The station will be holding an official general assembly this Saturday, aiming to establish changes it will need to stay afloat.

After a month rocked with resignations, infighting, a frozen fee levy account, the locking and eventual unlocking of its doors, the loss of its provisional Board of Directors and legal legitimacy, topped off with its fair share of personal-gone-public drama—CUTV has again become newsworthy.

The station is now forced to completely reconstruct itself, or fall apart, again.

The general assembly’s proposed agenda includes the adoption of bylaws, the appointment of an auditor and the election of an official BoD.

Members are encouraged to bring amendments to the current draft bylaws.

Though the issue of defining membership has been a sore spot throughout the CUTV saga, it was clarified at last week’s meeting”:

Members are defined as Concordia undergraduate fee levy-paying students, volunteer members having completed the requisite four hours of work and station employees.

Community organization partners that pay a fee and donors were also identified as voting members of CUTV.

However, before the GA can happen, several important details need to be finalized, including how members will be registered for the assembly.

“We haven’t done that yet, but it will definitely be based on lists that we’re gathering now,” said Gabrielle Bouchard, the 2110 Centre for Gender Advocacy peer suport and trans advocacy coordinator who has chaired the past two meetings, and has taken on an active role in organizing the GA.

“Donors were one of the categories of people that could vote, so obviously we will need the list of people who donated to CUTV,” said Bouchard, adding that this list does not necessarily exist yet. “For students, we’re going to ask for the help of the Concordia Student Union.”

The rest of the GA’s structure—including the voting process—is still undecided, but should be finalized by week’s end.

“I really wish that we’ll have a strong set of bylaws and a strong board by the end of that GA, so that CUTV can move forward,” she said. “I also really hope for civility.”

The Elephant in the Room

While the GA is generally welcomed by all, an increasingly vocal group of CUTV members, comprised mostly of volunteers and community members past and present, are ensuring their grievances are heard.

Concordia undergrad and former CUTV volunteer Kian Ettehadieh’s main concern is the proposed bylaws.

“I know that this is also the concern of many members and people at the station that are involved,” he said.

On Nov. 14, a group of members published an open letter titled “Members Speak Out” that addressed multiple issues within the structure of CUTV.

Though the letter is now closed for signatures, it gained approximately 50 names in a handful of days.

“At the meetings, we agreed the station needs to continue existing, and so we need to make it a legal organization,” said Ettehadieh, adding that existing internal conflicts at the station should not be overlooked in attempting to set things right.

“We’re addressing the issue, but not addressing its cause,” he said.

On Oct. 30, the Concordia Student Broadcasting Corporation, which oversees Concordia student radio station CJLO and formerly oversaw CUTV as well, ruled that “increasing tensions with staff members” were the cause of then-station manager Laura Kneale’s resignation.

On the day Kneale left, the entire original three-member provisional Board of Directors, including Kneale, resigned.

Since then, numerous members have approached The Link to voice frustrations with the station’s management, highlighting its hierarchical structure as a fundamental problem.

“I’m perturbed by the way things have been going, but this is nothing new,” said Clifton Nicholas, a Concordia student and former CUTV volunteer and equipment manager. “I left CUTV for a reason; I was forced out by [Executive Director] Laith Marouf and the inability of Laura Kneale to control him.”

When The Link contacted Marouf to comment on the GA and these issues, he refused to comment and hung up the phone.

For the past several weeks, Marouf has been alleging through Facebook posts that “evil reactionary opportunists” are challenging the station’s coverage of the Quebec student strikes.

“He’s been riding the horse of the student movement saying, ‘Look at everything we did. We tried to take down a government, and now they’re trying to take me down,’” said Nicholas. “It has nothing to do with that. That’s subterfuge.”

According to Ettehadieh, however, the bylaws that have been drafted for the upcoming GA are problematic.

“We’re meeting for a GA to pass bylaws and make CUTV a legal body, but Laith and company produced these bylaws without any member involvement,” said Ettehadieh. “So the concern is in what we are making a legal body—are we just legitimizing the previous structure, or are we moving towards a new structure and doing things differently?”

Ultimately, Ettehadieh hopes that the GA can uphold the members’ wishes.

“The culture within the station is that people want to be members. They feel like volunteers, but they want to be members who are actively participating in the decisions and direction of the station—and that’s what I’d like to see.”