UCSA Board of Directors votes to explore moving funds out of U.S. Bank

Fueled by a nationwide trend born out of the Occupy movement that encourages a distrust of large corporate banks, the UC Student Association Board of Directors voted unanimously Saturday to look into moving the association’s funds from a large corporate bank to smaller local banks.

The bill, which follows similar legislation passed by the ASUC — UC Berkeley’s student government body — and Berkeley City Council last week, asks the association’s financial officer and executive director to determine where to transfer the association’s savings out of U.S. Bank and into a community bank or credit union by mid-April.

The association’s current savings total about $179,000, according to Michiele Roderick, administrative assistant for the association.

“UCSA does not wish to support nor do business with any company that substantially engages in predatory practices and does not support building the local economy across the state of California,” the bill reads.

Matt Haney, executive director of the association, said the move was prompted by resolutions by both the United States Student Association and the ASUC to move their money from corporate banks to local financial institutions. The Peralta Community College District, which includes Berkeley City College, also made plans in December to move $15 million of the district’s savings to credit unions or community banks.

He added that the bill came out of a desire for the association’s board to “practice what we preach.”

“Where we keep our money reflects the values that we have as students and as advocates,” Haney said. “We want to support institutions that support the community and serve clients rather than focus on making large profits.”

Yet while U.S .Bank is the fifth-largest commercial bank in the country, it gives about $9 million in grants to nonprofit organizations in California, according to Teri Charest, vice president for media relations for U.S. Bancorp, the parent company of the bank.

“We lend to small businesses throughout the state, and also invest in important sectors such as renewable energy, helping the environment and creating jobs in California,” she said in an email.

Charest said the bank did not participate in the lending practices that led to the financial downturn. Yet the student association’s resolution states that “short-sighted” and “failed” investment practices of major private banks helped precipitate cuts to the state’s public education system.

Leaders of UC student organizations and student governments that have decided to move funds from corporate banks maintain that they hope their decisions will ultimately push the UC Board of Regents to follow suit.

“Showing that more and more students are behind this could lead to a huge push to get the regents to do the same thing,” said ASUC Senator Andy Albright, who co-authored the ASUC bill to investigate moving its funds from Bank of America.

Amruta Trivedi is the lead academics and administration reporter.