ASUC Senate votes to investigate moving funds out of Bank of America

The ASUC Senate unanimously passed a bill Wednesday night to investigate moving ASUC funds from Bank of America to smaller local institutions in order to support what the bill calls “ethical banking.”

Joining recent proposals by the city of Berkeley and local community colleges, the bill creates a temporary committee charged with submitting a written report to the senate by April 18 that will propose alternatives to the ASUC and ASUC Auxiliary’s current relationship with the bank.

Bank of America currently holds about $3.5 million of ASUC funds — composed of student fees, miscellaneous revenue and a fund that supports ethnic studies-related events, according to the bill.

The campus Graduate Assembly already holds its finances outside of large financial institutions, according to the bill.

The bill cites concerns with the bank’s financial practices as well as uninsured funds in the ASUC’s current account with the bank.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation insures only $250,000, or around 7 percent of the total funds, according to CalSERVE Senator Andy Albright.

“Our money isn’t safe where it is,” said Cooperative Movement Senator Elliot Goldstein. “There is a real practical side of this that we should find a way to get the account insured.”

The newly formed Financial Investment Committee will submit recommendations for the senate to send to Chancellor Robert Birgeneau, the UC Board of Regents and the UC Student Association to encourage them to disinvest from corporate banks as well.

However, the campus has long maintained a relationship with corporate banks.

Bank of America has donated nearly $1 million to the UC Berkeley School of Law for environmental climate initiatives, among other donations, according to bank spokesperson Colleen Haggerty.

“We are sorry to hear the ASUC approved such a proposal considering the facts, as Bank of America is a very large corporate contributor to UCB,” Haggerty said in an email.

Both Wells Fargo and Bank of America have also donated to building campaigns at the Haas School of Business, according to Ute Frey, spokesperson for the business school.

“Donations from alumni and corporations really help us maintain the strength of our program,” she said.

The bill comes on the heels of a unanimous Berkeley City Council vote Tuesday night to consider transferring the city’s assets out of Wells Fargo.

Additionally, the Peralta Community College District carried out a similar proposal Dec. 15 after district trustee and former CalSERVE Senator Abel Guillen proposed divesting funds from large banks.

The colleges — including Berkeley City College, College of Alameda, Laney College and Merritt College — identified $14 million that could be moved into community banks and credit unions, according to Guillen.

Chloe Hunt is the lead student government reporter.