“Your AggieCard. Your ATM card. All in one.” This is the slogan put forth on the U.S. Bank website for their UC Davis partner branch, glorifying the combination of two entities that have no place occupying the same piece of plastic.
In order to argue that a bank does not belong on a campus, we first need to agree on what a campus means to its students. A campus is not just a conglomerate of buildings, housing classrooms containing professors talking to students sitting in desks. For many students, campus is a home away from home. It is the source of their friends, activities and jobs and the place they spend the majority of their waking lives.
Above all, a campus is a sacred place where education holds the highest priority for both students and the faculty and administration who have chosen to devote their lives to this cause. Having a bank on a public campus, and thus, public property, is an affront to the triumph of education as the highest value and first priority of a university.
Having a bank on campus is a misappropriation of a space that is set aside for education to form a place that takes advantage of students for a profit. Banks don’t profit from or prioritize truth-telling. And while banks are not inherently a negative resource for students in need of loans, their function becomes problematic when they are given campus property to leverage their own gains against students’ losses.
As a result, the U.S. Bank in the Memorial Union is an inefficient use of prime campus space that is meant to be a central location for student activity and resources. Worse, the university has not upheld the principles under which it agreed to give UC Davis students access to bank operations.
A November 2009 article on the UC Davis News and Information website stated, “In developing the bank partnership, Student Affairs adopted a set of guiding principles that require ‘a process that is open, fair and competitive, consultative, and readily available for scrutiny and discussion.’”
It also stated that “Under the campus agreement, a student-majority committee will advise the vice chancellor about what services should be underwritten by the partnership and how funds should be used.”
The spirit of both these statements released by the university have been completely undermined during attempts by students to question the place of U.S. Bank on campus. As opposed to being open to scrutiny and discussion, the university has offered no compelling response to calls to close the bank.
Just as student ID cards should not double as debit cards, U.S. Bank, or any other bank, has no place on the UC Davis campus. If we agree to rent space to any company that will bring us slight revenue, the campus will cease to uphold the principles of an education free from private influence and competing interests.
Signed: Melissa Freeman, Becky Peterson, Angela Swartz, Jasna Hodzic, Erin Migdol
Editor’s note: The California Aggie Editorial Board was split. For another perspective, see Banks on campus: Fair game.
What about you? If you have an opinion on U.S. Bank, or any other campus issues, let us know. Send your letter to firstname.lastname@example.org by Wednesday at noon to be published in Thursday’s Aggie.