A group of UC Irvine students started a petition last month urging the university to remove the Wells Fargo bank from the Student Center and replace it with a credit union.
The formal petition on Change.org, which has garnered 200 signatures as of Sunday, is part of the larger “Divest from the Dakota Access Pipeline” movement. Wells Fargo has previously been criticized for its financial contributions to the pipeline as well as to private prisons. Under pressure from the Afrikan Black Coalition, which was founded in 2003 by black students from various UC campuses to advocate for black UC students, the UC system has already divested $30 million from private prisons in 2015 and $475 million from Wells Fargo this year, but students want UCI to continue its efforts and remove the bank from campus.
The petition also includes an email sent to UCI Chancellor Howard Gillman detailing these requests. Student organizers recognize the UC system for its previous divestment efforts but note that “the UC system has a long way to go before it can be considered an ethical institution.”
“Wells Fargo’s presence on our campus is inexcusable. By allowing them to be here, UCI is complicit in the oppression and exploitation of their most vulnerable students and our most vulnerable communities. Wells Fargo directly contributes to child abuse, slavery, discrimination, and exploitation,” the petition reads.
The letter also mentioned other actions by Wells Fargo in recent years that supported their appeal for UCI to sever ties with the bank.
“In 2012, Wells Fargo paid $175 million dollars in a race discrimination lawsuit. An investigation found 34,000 cases of Wells Fargo charging Black and Hispanic people higher fees than that of White people with similar credit background. This is also known as redlining, one of the many insidious and racist practices that caused the destruction of our Black communities. The discriminatory policies of Wells Fargo continue as they were recently charged with denying loans to immigrants enrolled in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.”
The petitioning students note that because of the tendency for banks to operate for-profit, instituting another bank on campus is not an option. SchoolsFirst FCU is a credit union currently on campus, but it is only available to university employees. The petition calls for an additional credit union that all students can use.
The petition, which still needs 300 signatures to reach its goal of 500, ended with a call to action.
“The pain and suffering caused by Wells Fargo will not be blunted by technicalities or bureaucratic jargon. We demand UCI stop being complicit in our oppression.”