Missing Information Slows CUTV’s Provisional BoD

Board Looking to Address Several Outstanding Issues

  • Concordia University Television’s newly elected provisional Board of Directors is rushing to compile documents and consolidate financial data in an attempt to stabilize the station, after months of internal turmoil nearly ran it into the ground. Photo Erin Sparks

Concordia University Television’s newly elected provisional Board of Directors is rushing to compile documents and consolidate financial data in an attempt to stabilize the station, after months of internal turmoil nearly ran it into the ground.

“We must remind ourselves that CUTV is in crisis,” said provisional Board chair David Widgington.

“We are a provisional Board, and this is our situation—CUTV is vulnerable and morale is generally low. We need to move carefully forward, but we absolutely need to move forward.”

Following the General Assembly held on Dec. 1, which resulted in the formation of the eight-person body, the provisional Board met to organize themselves and appoint a chair, co-chair, secretary and a treasurer.

They held their first official meeting on Dec. 13.

Widgington asked the audience for its patience, and to consider that all provisional Board members are new, have no collective institutional memory and are working on a “very steep learning curve.”

Despite several of the Board members’ attempts to explicitly state that only eight people in the room—the elected members of the provisional Board—had speaking rights, the audience remained very much vocal and present in discussion throughout the meeting.

Beyond addressing logistical issues, the Board’s main focus was to prioritize tasks and identify missing information needed in order to move forward, fulfill their mandate and return things to business-as-usual at the station.

Who is and is not employed by CUTV, how much they are owed and how much the station actually has in its accounts are questions that remain unanswered.

At its initial meeting, the Board established three working groups—finance, administrative and university relations/communications—to accelerate the process of going through the actions required to restore the station to a functional and healthy state.

“This is very much the beginning of the process,” said provisional BoD treasurer and former The Link news editor Julian Ward, stressing that the provisional BoD is dealing with many unknowns and is still learning many of the procedures required to fill the informational voids.

Ward and Widgington have made themselves CUTV’s new signing officers—the only members of the Board that are able to authorize the release of any funds for payment or otherwise.

Since doing so, they have paid the station’s long-overdue insurance, and know CUTV currently has $35,111.98 in its private bank account, in addition to roughly $500 in its PayPal account.

These numbers contrast strongly with numbers that have been projected over the past two months by CUTV and its Executive Director Laith Marouf. Through Facebook posts and interviews with The Link, Marouf suggested that CUTV was running a $100,000 surplus, and had accumulated upwards of $80,000 in donations over the last 10 months.

Ward says, from what he can tell so far, the station currently owes $32,697.76 to various parties—payroll excluded.

The amount that is left in the station’s student-funded fee levy account, however, remains unknown to him.

“We are a provisional Board, and this is our situation—CUTV is vulnerable and morale is generally low. We need to move carefully forward, but we absolutely need to move forward.”

—Provisional Board chair David Widgington

On Oct. 31, following a request made by the station’s former parent company, the Concordia Student Broadcasting Corporation, the university froze CUTV’s fee levy account—to which undergraduate students contribute $0.34 per credit.

At that time payroll was left unfrozen, and the station was paying approximately 10 employees a combined sum of $1,000 per day.

By early November however, the entire account was frozen, including all payroll expenses.

At the end of last month, only three paid staff members were employed by the station—Executive Director Laith Marouf, Web Developer Fahim Moussi and Sound and Music Coordinator Nawar Al-Rufaie.

As became apparent at the GA, the question of who is employed at CUTV remains a contentious and ambiguous issue. For this reason, the last remaining seat on the provisional Board—the staff-spot—remains vacant, as it was tabled until internal staff issues were resolved.

In hopes of bringing some clarity to the matter, the administrative working group has been mandated by the Board to investigate existing staff contracts, and report back by Dec. 20.

The findings of this report must be submitted before any paycheques can be sent out.

Once the payroll is reviewed, the finance working group has been mandated to pressure the CSBC to unfreeze the station’s fee-levy account and reactivate payroll as soon as possible.

Marouf stressed the urgency of the matter, noting that the university would be soon closing its doors for the holidays, and would be unable to release paycheques after this time.

“You know, Christmas is coming,” he said.

Ward says he is doing everything he can to deal with the issue in a timely manner, though cannot guarantee that paycheques will be sent prior to the holidays.

The provisional Board was also mandated by the Dec. 1 GA to conduct a forensic audit of both CUTV and its former parent corporation, the Concordia Student Broadcasting Corporation.

Former provisional Board member Sabine Friesinger suggested that the Board formulate a motion to address the matter so that she could bring it to the CSBC’s upcoming meeting on Jan. 10. Friesinger currently sits on the CSBC Board.

After much discussion as to how to approach the matter, the provisional Board came to an agreement.

“We will be left out to dry if this audit doesn’t take place,” said provisional Board member Emily Campbell. “We have to try.”

The provisional Board agreed to stand behind a motion to be brought to the Jan. 10 CSBC meeting, requesting a full “audit” from June 1, 2008 to May 31, 2012.

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