In March 1 letter to the UC Board of Regents, the senior vice president of U.S. Bank stated that the Feb. 28 closure of the bank’s branch on the UC Davis campus was a direct result of demonstrations which have taken place inside and outside of the bank since January.
Bank spokesperson Teri Charest said the branch was closed as a result of safety concerns caused by protesters congregating outside.
“We have closed the branch at the University of California Davis after weeks of business interruption that risked the safety of our customers and employees,” Charest said in an email. “Despite our best attempts, we were limited in our ability to resolve the matter and therefore decided to close the office.”
The letter stated that “there is no doubt that U.S. Bank has been constructively evicted from the Branch” due to the protests and that the bank will hold the regents “liable for all losses” including business losses and rent. The letter took issue with the regents allegedly failing to “remove or arrest the persons participating in the illegal gathering” and added that the regents “have used available laws to disperse protesters who have congregated elsewhere on the University’s campuses.”
In addition to the branch office, the bank also installed seven ATMs on campus and supplied campus ID cards. Agreements with the bank generated about $167,000 for student programs last year.
A letter to the bank sent by Attorney J. Daniel Sharp on behalf of the regents stated that “the Regents asked repeatedly for the Bank’s assistance and collaboration in addressing the problems created by the protesters, and the Bank has either outright refused to provide such assistance or has delayed responding in a manner that has caused reasonable suspicion that the Bank was not genuinely interested in maintaining a long-term presence at the Davis Campus.”
Sharp’s letter also states that the regents will not mitigate financial damage resulting from the closure of the branch.
The UC Berkeley student government and the city of Berkeley have also clashed with big banks in recent months.
The campus ASUC Senate passed a bill Feb. 1 to investigate moving ASUC funds from Bank of America to smaller, local credit unions. The senate followed in the footsteps of the city, which voted Jan. 31 to explore a similar move with Wells Fargo.
Jamie Applegate covers higher education.
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