Blockades by Occupy UC Davis protesters have led to speculation that U.S. Bank may leave the Memorial Union (MU) if protests persist.
In the past week, protesters have blockaded the door to the bank eight times, according to a protester. These blockades have resulted in the early closure of the bank and involvement of campus police.
The closure of the bank could also mean the departure of funds for student activities.
“The occupiers claim they are working for students, but they are actually disrupting funding for the same services they want to be improved,” said ASUCD Senator Justin Goss.
Occupy protesters assert that the presence of U.S. Bank on campus is uniquely harmful because students may opt for the convenience of obtaining a high-interest loan there, rather than shop elsewhere. Ultimately, the protesters say that they want the bank closed.
Critics like Goss have called that notion “ridiculous” and believe it is the student’s responsibility to find the best loan.
Opened in 2010, the branch was part of a broad partnership between UC Davis and U.S. Bank, which the university hoped would bring needed funds for student activities.
“The university received a total of $167,500 from U.S. Bank last year. That is in addition to the $8,333 we receive every month in rent,” said UC Davis spokesperson Claudia Morain.
The university also receives another cut of money depending on the number of bank accounts opened by UC Davis students.
As a part of the 10-year agreement signed between the two parties, U.S. Bank will also provide financial education programs for students.
In response to the blockade, U.S. Bank’s corporate office released a statement.
“We respect the protesters’ right to speak freely on public property. That said, our bank branch is private property and we seek to serve our customers safely and conveniently,” said U.S. Bank spokesperson Teri Charest.
“They control the space they’re leasing, which is very much like any other landlord-tenant agreement,” said Morain.
When asked to clarify whether U.S. Bank has plans to withdraw from UC Davis, Charest reiterated their goal “to find a way to continue to provide services to our campus customers.”
“Our main concern is when customers are unable to access the branch,” she said.
RICHARD CHANG can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.