Motion to Invite CUTV to Film CSU Meetings Fails

CUTV Station Manager Laura Kneale explained to Council the importance of transparency through film. Photo Justin Giovannetti

A motion to invite Concordia University Television to film Concordia Student Union council meetings quickly turned sour at the union’s Oct. 13 meeting.

Councillors Ethan Cox and Joel Suss presented their fellow representatives with a motion that would formally invite CUTV to film and stream council meetings on the Internet.

After half an hour of heated debate, which revolved around the legality and ethics of having a media outlet broadcast the meetings, the motion was shot down by a vote of 13 to six.
From the outset, CUTV representatives were in attendance capturing the deliberations on tape as they unfolded.

“This is a really good step towards transparency and accountability,” said Cox while presenting the motion. “It’s important that students who can’t make it out to Loyola on Wednesday night be able to open up their laptops and see what their representatives said […] I think that it can’t help but improve the reputation of the CSU […] and I think that it’s in fact the essence of democracy.”

CUTV Station Manager Laura Kneale also spoke to the council.

“There’s no bylaw that prevents CUTV from filming the meetings and in the past there were even motions presented to allow [CUTV] to film [the meetings],” said Kneale, adding that, unlike newspapers, the station could provide an “uneditorialized” view of what happens at a council meeting.

Many of the councillors were visibly uncomfortable being filmed and expressed concerns over their right to privacy. CSU President Heather Lucas went so far as to claim CUTV’s presence at the meetings would intimidate council, as students would be able to see how councillors voted on certain motions.

Cox fired back at Lucas, comparing her to Keyana Kashfi, the president of a CSU executive repeatedly accused of violating its own constitution in 2008.

“Allow me to posit that if you are uncomfortable with the students at large knowing which way you voted on a particular issue, you probably shouldn’t have voted that way,” said Cox.

Although CSU council meetings are open to students and student newspapers, and there is no bylaw preventing the station from filming council’s proceedings, the motion’s harshest critics alleged the act of filming the meeting is, in fact, illegal.

“This room is reserved, it is not public,” said CSU VP External and Projects Adrien Severyns. “The person that does not accept to be filmed should not be filmed, it is the law, it’s an invasion of privacy. I do not want to be filmed right now [but] I am filmed and I could very easily sue [CUTV].”

After Cox and Suss’ motion failed to pass, CSU President Heather Lucas asked CUTV to stop filming the meeting. No councillor could produce a specific piece of legislation or law that could prevent the video recording of a student union meeting; as a result CUTV was allowed to continue filming the rest of the meeting by council Chair Marc-Antoni Tarondo.

While the CSU may not have been the most accommodating hosts, CUTV will still film council’s next meeting on Nov. 10.

This article originally appeared in Volume 31, Issue 10, published October 19, 2010.