CSBC credit card fraud addressed at AGM

Graphic by Jennifer Kwan.

Credit card fraud, the split with Concordia University Television and an ongoing debate over how financial records should be reviewed were all issues addressed at the Concordia Student Broadcasting Corporation’s Annual General Meeting last Saturday.

During the hour-long meeting, CSBC President Angelica Calcagnile gave an overview of the Board of Directors report, the CSBC’s financial statements were reviewed and elections and re-elections of the BoD took place.

During the BoD report, Calcagnile gave a frank explanation of current issues the CSBC has been dealing with, such as the issue of money still owed to CUTV following their separation last fall. The money, owed to CUTV following an audit of the value of the station, amounts to just over $14,000. Patrice Blais, treasurer of the CSBC, explained that the figure does not take into account money that CUTV spent using the corporation’s accounts, including the purchase of new computers and credit card statements dating back to June. Blais estimated that a more accurate figure of the money still owed would be between $7,000 and $10,000.

Calcagnile described to members a recent incident of credit card fraud on three of the CSBC’s credit cards. The fraudulent transactions committed in December, totalling $862.19, were spotted and reversed in early January.

“I was alerted to it by multiple sources around the 10th of January and it was resolved I believe the 10th of January as well,” Calcagnile said. “They credited our accounts and there was no damage whatsoever. There might be something that we’ll see on our next statement, because they might have continued to commit [fraud] into January, but the cards were cancelled.”

After the bank returned the money, CSBC opened a file with the Montreal Police. Calcagnile explained that the issue was not one the authorities considered to be worth investigating due to the fact that the amount was small and no financial damage resulted from the incident.

A third issue mentioned during the BoD report was a push by former CSBC director Sabine Friesinger for retroactive audits of the CSBC’s books going back three years. The motion was put forward at the CSBC’s BoD meeting in January and was voted down. According to Calcagnile, the issue will be addressed at the Graduate Students’ Association Tuesday.

“[Friesinger] is trying to get the GSA to agree to encourage us to do a retroactive audit and if not, the outcome of that motion is that they could hold our GSA fee-levy,” said Calcagnile.

Calcagnile went on to explain the reasoning behind the CSBC’s switch from audits to financial reviews several years ago, stating that it wasn’t necessary to perform full audits.

“The auditor said, ‘listen, I’ve looked at your books and I’ve been doing your books for X amount of years and it doesn’t seem necessary, it represents a significant cost to you that I don’t feel is necessary for your organization’,” she said. “Here at Concordia, the only organization that does a full audit every year is the Concordia Student Union and they’re dealing with significantly more money than the rest of us.”

Friesinger, the one who first proposed the motion, told The Concordian that allegations of mismanagement during the separation of CUTV and CSBC were what first led her to the idea of retroactive audits.

“If those allegations are proven to be wrong after a full audit then all the better,” said Friesinger. “But when these kinds of things are said and people are worried about it then we need to take action on it.”

Friesinger also explained that the amount of funding the CSBC receives from student fee-levies was another reason she was concerned with what she called a lack of financial transparency.

“I don’t know whether or not there is financial mismanagement, but I know that when I asked about seeing bank statements or credit card statements, or even statements from internal accounts, I was refused.”


Heads or tails, CUTV?

Photo by Marie-Josée Kelly

Concerned staff and community members, students and donors attended an eight-hour long General Assembly to restructure Concordia University Television Saturday. The goal of the GA was to implement a legitimate set of bylaws and oversee the creation of a provisional Board of Directors.

The campus-based television station’s lack of structure has impeded it from moving forward this semester. A rough transitional agreement from the Concordia Student Broadcasting Corporation, copious resignations and interpersonal conflicts coupled with financial instability led CUTV to lose its footing on already shaky ground this October.

With a legally illegitimate provisional BoD and unratified bylaws, volunteers and former staff members of CUTV held meetings to discuss how to rebuild. Following two information sessions, the GA was set for Dec. 1.

Over 40 individuals attended the meeting, chaired by Fine Arts student Alex Matak, to voice their concerns, questions and suggestions. The meeting, which lasted from morning to early evening, provided undergraduate students, volunteers, donors, staff and community members with voting rights.

A temporary set of bylaws was adopted following contention and lack of time to develop a set of guidelines everyone could agree upon. An amendment was made to bylaw 4.1 to include all students who pay a fee-levy to CUTV as members.

Due to time constraints and conflicts over the formation of a proposed board of 11 members, a motion was put forth to implement a provisional BoD. The original proposal incorporated a position for a donor and three students, a point that was met with contention from some.

CUTV member Julian Ward proposed a board model with more student representation including four students, four community members and one staff member. This motion was amended to exclude a staff member leading to a final eight members after discord among attendees.

Following a secret ballot, the newly implemented provisional BoD consists of four undergraduate students: Emily Campbell, Ward, Michelle Moore and Kian Ettehadieh and four community members: David Widgington, Mikelai Cervera, Anthony Côte and Catherine Poitras Auger.

“Getting things sort of back to normal takes precedence,” Ettehadieh told The Concordian. “We have to address the wide variety of issues going on, whether they are personal, legal or financial.”

Two re-counts revealed a tie in the number of votes for Côte and candidate William Ray. The only proposed solution in the bylaws for such a situation stated that the chairperson could vote. Citing discomfort, Matak opted instead to flip a coin. Therefore, Côte was appointed as the result of a coin toss.

“The priority was to make sure they have a legal board to bring CUTV back on its feet,” said President Schubert Laforest of the Concordia Student Union. “It’s the best outcome given the situation.”

While CUTV possesses a legal board, challenges and questions remain. A real BoD must be structured and agreed upon, a future GA must be held to continue going over bylaws, and the payroll is frozen.

“As the signing authority on the account, the Concordia Student Broadcasting Corporation froze the payroll. It was not the university,” said Chris Mota, university spokesperson. “The university has not been in touch with members of the station as this is a student fee levy group that needs to work out its own issues.”

According to Mota, the university has been monitoring the situation.

Angelica Calcagnile, president of the CSBC, told The Concordian that a motion was passed by the CSBC to freeze CUTV’s payroll account on Oct. 30 in light of the legal limbo the station found itself in.

“I know that the university had to catch up on that with payroll, but the decision to freeze that account was taken on October 30,” Calcagnile said. “I’m not sure of the exact moment in time in which that happened, but ultimately it was the university that froze the account.”

Correction made on 5/12/2012


Rebuilding from the ground up

Concordia University Television will hold a General Assembly this Saturday to establish a proper governance structure in an effort to move forward following weeks of instability.

The future of CUTV remains unclear; clouded by uncertainty and fuelled by several unresolved issues. The campus television station underwent a slew of resignations, frozen funds and financial instability in recent weeks. CUTV experienced a rough transition period in separating from the Concordia Student Broadcasting Corporation coupled with a legally defunct Board of Directors. Following a second public meeting, a GA was unanimously voted for last Monday.

“I think everyone involved right now in the process of preparing for the GA shares one common goal,” said Sabine Friesinger, the sole director remaining on CUTV’s emergency provisional Board. “It is building a solid, democratic, inclusive and transparent structure that reflects the values of community media.”

Gabrielle Bouchard, the 2110 Centre for Gender Advocacy peer support and trans advocacy co-ordinator, moderated both meetings in hopes of aiding the station to establish a plan to move forward. Bouchard also helped plan the upcoming GA because there was a “collective understanding to work together” and is currently facilitating conversation between active members of CUTV.

At the second meeting, everyone agreed that a GA was necessary to give a foundation to a new CUTV legal identity. According to the CUTV’s event page, the goal is to form bylaws, appoint an auditor who will assess the station’s finances, elect a new BoD and establish voting rights—all legal requirements of a Quebec not-for-profit organization.

Undergraduate students, volunteers, employees, donors and community partner organizations are eligible to vote.

“I hope to see an open and positive discussion and some good bylaws adopted,” Bouchard said. “I also hope that some great, strong and empathetic people will come forward and get elected on the board.”

It remains unknown as to where the GA will be held but Bouchard hopes to ask the Concordia Student Union for the seventh floor lounge and a list of all students to make identification easier when voting.

“Despite the gloomy period CUTV has gone through in the past weeks, the fact that members are stepping up and taking the time from their own busy schedules to continue to get things done at CUTV is one of the most positive things that could happen at this point,” Friesinger said. “I’m really encouraged by their determination and will to help the station move out of the impasse.”


Keeping it in the family: CUTV style

Is Concordia University Television under attack? Probably not. Does it need a new leader to guide the organization out of this mess? Definitely.

A little bit of context: Employees of CUTV have been quitting left and right, locks were changed on the office doors, the organization’s finances have been frozen by the university, scathing open letters have been exchanged and only one person currently sits on the Board of Directors, leaving the organization in a tight spot legally.

Basically, it’s been a rough couple of months for CUTV.

What CUTV should have done: for starters, there should have been more communication between members, staff and the people running the show. If the station was falling apart, the directors and the management should have addressed it much earlier. There is honestly no excuse for this level of confusion and blame-gaming.

This whole situation was made worse now that the Board of Directors has only one remaining member. This shows a clear lack of forethought and organization now that no new directors can be appointed, there are no bylaws to work off of and no one seems to be aware of what to do next.

What CUTV is doing wrong: from what we’ve been hearing, it sounds like everyone involved could use a bit of an attitude adjustment. People quitting en masse because of “tensions” at the station indicate to us that those underlying problems were not so subtle after all. The amount of infighting and name-calling we’ve been privy to of late is really childish. This is a university and some of the people involved in this mess are too old to be acting like they don’t know when to keep their mouths shut and their personal vendettas in check.

The solution: clean it up and clean it out. Some of the key players in this unravelling saga have been at Concordia for nearly a decade and we wonder if some fresh blood might be just the thing CUTV needs to stay afloat. While there is something to be said for the benefits of institutional memory, those benefits are vastly outweighed by the problems facing CUTV right now. As far as we can tell, the station is not under attack from the outside; it’s collapsing all by itself.

Now is the perfect time for a complete overhaul of CUTV. If the organization has been plagued by negativity and mismanagement, then it’s time for the veterans to step aside and see what a new generation of students can accomplish.


Tensions continue to rise at CUTV

Graphic by Jennifer Kwan.

Following weeks of legal troubles and a handful of resignations, members of Concordia University Television held a meeting to discuss how to move forward.

On June 1, a transitional agreement was put forth between CUTV and Concordia Student Broadcasting Corporation, the organization that supervised the governance of CUTV and the university’s student radio station, CJLO. This agreement meant that CUTV would be seen as a new, independent not-for-profit organization.

However, while in the midst of the transition process, CUTV faced an array of problems. CUTV currently has no tangible operating budget due to financial troubles that forced the university’s administration to step in and freeze the accounts in October.

In documents obtained by The Concordian, the statements of a PayPal account owned by CUTV revealed financial instability. In the months where the student strike movement was at its height, CUTV recorded a gain of more than $25,000 in a single month alone. Conversely, the financial statements from Oct. 1 to Oct. 24 reveal that CUTV’s funds dwindled from $3,724.73 to $333.42 prior to the university’s intervention.

Furthermore, the student-run organization lost its station manager, Laura Kneale, and the growing number of resignations for its provisional Board of Directors has rendered it legally defunct.

Legally, CUTV cannot appoint more members to its BoD since only one person remains as a director. Therefore, the station must either dissolve or have a judge legally appoint more members. During this changeover, members of the station neglected time limits concerning the transition agreement between themselves and the CSBC. They never managed to adopt any bylaws or hold general assemblies.

In an open letter published last Tuesday on the station’s website, Laith Marouf, former program director and current executive director of CUTV, stated that the student strike movement lead to less time for “implementing government structure.”

The first meeting, held in the basement of Concordia’s School of Community and Public Affairs, was called by Marouf in the same letter in order to garner support to “save” it.

In response, staff members of CUTV voiced their concerns and frustrations in their own letter. Staff members claimed that information was inaccessible to them and they were disappointed with the lack of communication and having to rely on external news sources for information. An article published in The Link detailed the legal challenges CUTV is facing and the authors of the letter claimed that “it has been disappointing and frustrating to watch from the outside as the station we contributed time and energy to seems to be crumbling.”

Students and members of the Concordia community attended the meeting to discuss what kind of guidelines need to be implemented and a way to move forward. At times, the conversation was contentious due to the inability to render a decision on who was considered a member of CUTV, the need to put forth bylaws and eventually hold a general assembly.

Marouf said that membership should be defined by volunteerism, and that while students of the university pay into the fee-levy group, only volunteers at CUTV should have voting rights.

This motion did not sit well with many in attendance, including Morgan Pudwell, the Concordia Student Union’s former VP advocacy and outreach.

“Undergraduate students deserve to be in that discussion,” said Pudwell.

Unable to reach a consensus on what defines membership, the meeting ended at an impasse with a second meeting held Monday evening to discuss the same matters.

The result of the second meeting was that voting rights at the upcoming General Assembly would extend to individuals who have been staff members since October 2011, donors and Concordia students.

The General Assembly is to be held the first weekend of December, though it is not yet known what day it will take place.

During both meetings, individuals suggested that personal attacks were unacceptable and impeded discussions from moving forward. Thursday, staff member Emily Campbell said the current atmosphere left her and others feeling unsafe about going to the station.

It was a reference to the mounting tensions between members within CUTV and the two letters published by different groups with opposing views. The letter issued on CUTV’s website claimed that the station was “under attack” by the CSBC who “positioned itself as the governing body of CUTV” and wanted to “shut it down.” Authors stated that CSBC President Justin Giovannetti was “engaged in a public campaign to undermine CUTV.”

However, in an interview with The Concordian, Marouf contradicted the statement on the website.

“The CSBC was not attempting to shut down CUTV. Its president, Justin Giovannetti, differed in his vision with CUTV members and staff and was not able to detach his inherent bias as both an employee of CTV, a corporate rival for our station, and his presidency on the Board of Directors of The Link,” Marouf said. “He was wearing too many hats.”

Giovannetti resigned from the CSBC Wednesday, marking yet another resignation. Giovannetti wrote in an email that “Few of you will be surprised when I say that I didn’t enjoy my past year as your president.”

He went on to write that “Tonight I was forced to make a choice between my employment and continuing to volunteer for a campus organization.”

Angelica Calcagnile, the CSBC’s vice-president, said that CUTV was now on its own.

“CUTV is no longer part of the CSBC, and we are no longer responsible for their decision-making, so it is up to their membership to improve the situation at the station,” she said. “That said, we support the development of a strong, unified and financially stable organization with a clear legal structure and demonstrated responsibility to Concordia’s students.”

The provisional BoD of CUTV that included Kneale, Marouf and staff member Abel Alegria dissolved in October. Wendy Kraus-Heitmann also stepped down as provisional emergency director of CUTV’s BoD earlier this month citing Marouf’s actions as the reason for her departure, and leaving Sabine Friesigner as the single director.

“[CUTV] is only holding meetings now because the staff went nuts after being mismanaged into the ground for months on end, and Laith and [his] friends are desperate to look good,” Kraus-Heitmann said. “Laith Marouf is not attempting to save CUTV. Laith Marouf is trying to save his job.”


Does undocumented have to mean uneducated?

Photo via Flickr.

For families with children, the fall routine is now in full swing. Days in the schoolyard are getting chillier, and iconic yellow buses roam the streets around the city bringing kids to school.

However, several hundred children do not have a seat on these buses, nor can they have a place in the classroom.

“We estimate that there are about 40,000 migrants without immigration status in Montreal, several hundred of them children. But with many of them living in hiding, it’s hard to tell for sure. There are no statistics for these people,” said Judith Rouan, member of the Collectif Éducation Sans Frontières, in an exclusive interview with CUTV News.

Because they do not posses status papers, the children of undocumented migrant workers cannot access public education, unless they pay a fee of $6,000, a whopper for most families.
Immigration Canada’s delays are increasing, and status papers are taking longer to process.

Parents usually work illegally for several dollars under minimum wage in dire conditions, supporting their children who stay at home with nowhere to go until their immigration documents go through, which can take several years. These parents are often scared to enroll their child in school; worried they will ask for immigration papers and fear the risk of deportation. So while the papers are pending, what do they do?

“It’s abominable, always living in fear like that […] children cannot have a normal life, it’s a deplorable situation,” said Rouan.

Immigration documents should not be a factor in the admission of a student, said Rouan, and such laws have been implemented already in France, Spain, and in the U.S. to ensure access to education for all children, with official status or without. Here in Canada, it seems that our own laws are grossly overlooked.

The Ontario Education Act clearly states that “A person who is otherwise entitled to be admitted to a school and who is less than eighteen years of age shall not be refused admission because the person or the person’s parent or guardian is unlawfully in Canada.”

However, according to a study made by Social Planning Toronto, this law is only respected one in seven times.

What’s alarming is that, unlike our neighboring province, proof of citizenship is required in Quebec for a child to be enrolled in school.

That being said, there are no specific regulations concerning undocumented migrants; except for that impossible $6,000 tuition fee. The school commissions are trapped between the Education Ministry’s regulations, and the children’s families.

“Sometimes, they can be accommodating and accept children on condition that they show their pending papers within a year of admission … but even in some cases when the parents can afford to enroll their child in private school, there always remains the issue of the permanent code and the legitimacy of their diploma,” said Rouan.

It seems that our educational institutions have their doors shut tight when it comes to undocumented migrants with only some schools leaving the door slightly ajar in secret. With most people unaware of the situation, awareness is the key to bringing this issue to light.

Clearly, a province-wide discussion needs to be held in order to determine a possible middle ground. Undocumented migrants could perhaps attend school on small grants, paying back their tuition once their documents are sorted out. Some say this is going too far, that it isn’t taxpayers’ responsibility to fund undocumented migrants, but doesn’t every child have the right to learn? How do we as a nation achieve this delicate balance between cost effectiveness, and access to fundamental rights for all, regardless of status?

With files from CUTV.

Concordia Student Union News

CSU backs CUTV and Juripop with $16,000 in financial aid

The Concordia Student Union passed a motion on Wednesday to provide additional funding to both Juripop and Concordia University’s student television station.

Councillors Cameron Monagle, Irmak Bahar and Eva-Loan Ponton called the special meeting to discuss what to do with the CSU’s operating budget surplus. The surplus is approximately between $18,000 and $20,000.

The CSU went on to unanimously pass a motion to finance Juripop with $10,000 to help provide legal aid to students who might be charged under Bill 78 or under current municipal bylaws. The same motion also provides CUTV with an additional $6,000.

The additional funding for CUTV comes to help cover the costs of the live stream content that the group has been providing during the nightly protests revolving around the tuition crisis.

“It costs an astronomical amount,” said CSU councillor Cameron Monagle in reference to CUTV’s operating expenses.

“CUTV did not request money, “ wrote Monagle in an email to The Concordian, “but in light of their of their elevated expenses and losses with the recent coverage, we felt it would be appropriate.”

According to CSU President Lex Gill, the incoming executive begin their term on Friday June 1 and cannot access the surplus. She emphasized that the current CSU is not trying to take away funding from those about to take over.

“We’re not in anybody’s pockets,” Gill said.

The special meeting was called two days before the current CSU mandate’s term is set to expire.


CJLO and CUTV gunning for fee levy increases

The futures of Concordia University Television and campus radio station CJLO 1690 AM are in students’ hands this week.

The student-run media outlets are asking for students to approve an increase in their fee levy— the amount of funding they receive from students—to $0.34 per credit, in this week’s Concordia Student Union byelections.

Both CUTV and CJLO are fee levy groups and non-profit organizations which exist separately from the university.

“What fee levy groups do is they provide services that the university either can’t or won’t provide,” said Justin Giovannetti, president of the Concordia Student Broadcasting Corporation. The CSBC oversees the governance of CJLO and CUTV, as well as Concordia’s HAM radio club.

“There’s this entire ecosystem that’s been built around Concordia in fee levy groups,” said Giovannetti.

Sir George Williams campus, meet CJLO
If the fee levy passes, CJLO plans to use the extra funds to expand their sound to a clearer FM frequency.

“Not all of Concordia can actually hear CJLO. With this fee levy we’d actually be able to get onto a small FM signal downtown,” said station manager Stephanie Saretsky.

The frequency would span the Sir George Williams campus east to west from about Atwater Avenue to de la Montagne Street.

The fee levy would help cover the costs of buying and installing the antenna, which according to Giovannetti can range anywhere from $20,000 to $50,000 depending on the building it sits on.

“If we get a big prominent building like the MB building, a modern building with a roof that doesn’t need much bracing, you’re looking at a much cheaper antenna,” said Giovannetti, citing the long-term costs of leasing space for the antenna as part of the reasoning why CJLO is asking for sustainable funding in the form of a fee levy increase rather than just taking out a loan.

Available for online listening since 2001 and on-air since 2008, CJLO routinely picks up awards at the CMJ Music Marathon & Film Festival College Day Awards in New York City, winning Station of the Year in 2010 and Best Student-Run Non-FM Station in 2008. They were also the only Canadian radio station invited to the International Radio Festival in Zurich, Switzerland this past summer.

“Only three years on-air and we’ve been doing really impressive work,” said Saretsky.

With the increased fee levy, she says the station hopes to reduce the amount of on-air advertising and set the groundwork for large-scale fundraising drives.

CUTV in your home
CUTV is looking to expand its content too—in its case, to cable TV.

Broadcasting on Vox, a public access channel owned by Videotron, is just one of several goals that CUTV outlined for itself in a strategic plan drafted last year and that the fee levy increase will be going towards.

“Space and infrastructure are the two biggest things that are holding us down right now,” said station manager Laura Kneale, explaining that the older building on Mackay where CUTV is located is not able to handle their electrical needs.

On campus in various forms since 1969, CUTV currently produces six different shows, while providing equipment and training to anyone interested in film. According to Kneale, approximately 400 students used their services in the last year and a half.

The station also live streams CSU council meetings online, a service which Kneale says they hope to extend to the university as a whole.

“There’s a need at the university for better meeting and conference rooms,” she said, describing “a room that would be a multi-purpose room for meetings, for press conferences, that would be fully equipped with the means to either project or fully live stream” as a potential solution to this problem and “a big investment in the long run for Concordia.”

Exit mobile version