AMS Board miscalculates with firing

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The AMS Board of Directors’ decision to fire CFRC’s Business Manager was poorly executed and ultimately detrimental to the long-term viability of the radio station.

The decision was announced on Oct. 2 when Ayanda Mngoma was fired without cause or notice from his one-year full time position at CFRC. The Board of Directors attempted to justify their decision by touting the necessity of being cost-effective in trying to reduce CFRC’s deficit.

While the Board’s financially-based decision isn’t unheard of, the way they went about it — without consultation or notice — is unreasonable and paternalistic. The Board’s actions demonstrate a lack of oversight and a focus on short-term gain over long-term loss for the radio station.

Had they been more transparent about the process, potential long-term repercussions for the business relations of the station could have been minimized.

As a result of Mngoma’s firing, CFRC estimates a $7,000 loss in cash revenue and in-kind deals which will have inevitable ripple effects on those who have done or planned on doing business with the radio station.

In any business, it takes time to build trusting relationships with clients. By hiring a part-time honoraria-based replacement mid-semester, these relationships will inevitably suffer.

When the volunteer is hired, the station will be forced to train them from scratch in the midst of the semester, leaving them in a weaker position than they were in prior to Mngoma’s firing. The firing comes in the wake of the Board rejecting CFRC’s proposed budget in August. Two months later, the Board made their firing decision and presented the station with a revised budget which had significant changes to the business side.

The relationship between the radio station and the AMS has been strained for months — one that’s further complicated given recent events. If there was a disagreement amongst the two parties regarding the station’s budget outline and spending of deficit coverage, more negotiations should have taken place before firing the business manager without consultation.

In the Board’s eyes, the station’s financial situation was too dire to not intervene — they were simply cutting off part of what they viewed as the infected limb.

CFRC’s financial situation however wasn’t new to the Board and it seems strange that they would opt to fire Mngoma at the start of October rather than before the fall semester had begun.

The planned replacement, a 15-hour-a-week volunteer, seems like an illogical way forward for a station in need of revenue to combat their deficit. While profits from campus radio advertisements are admittedly minimal when compared to other forms of media, Mngoma had brought in $3,000 in revenue to the station in his five months in the role. The $10,000 cut to CFRC’s budget that the firing is expected to result in won’t be enough to minimize the long-term effects a shaky business year could have on the station.

At 90 years, CFRC is one of the oldest radio stations in Canada and its historic importance to Queen’s and the Kingston community is something worth preserving.

CFRC is only an AMS service until 2014, after which the AMS will cease to cover any of its debt, which has consistently been between $15,000 and $20,000 for the past six years.

As the body that oversees CFRC’s finances, the Board was legally in the right. But, just because it had the power to fire Mngoma, doesn’t mean that it should have done so without consulting CFRC first. Of course CFRC isn’t blameless in the situation. Realizing their financial situation was dire, after multiple years of having a deficit, the station should have taken more action earlier on.

The troubling reality that the AMS Board has the power to make this kind of rash decision in the first place is something CFRC should have publically objected to and attempted to get overturned earlier.

It’s up to students to determine what they want to see thrive on campus. Although CFRC will only be an AMS service for the next two years, students deserve a say in the future of their campus radio station. While the Board attempted to make a financially responsible decision, the lack of consideration they showed CFRC throughout the process is reprehensible and ultimately takes agency away from those who truly deserve it most in this situation — students and CFRC’s staff.

— Journal Editorial Board

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