Replace the Wells Fargo at UCI with a Credit Union

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We as members of the University of California, Irvine (UCI) want to ensure that the ethical and inclusive goals of our University are met. Therefore, we call upon the University administration to end its ties with the Wells Fargo Bank housed in the campus Student Center. We demand the Wells Fargo bank to be replaced with an ethically responsible financial institution that has no stakes in the investment in private prisons and anti-people ventures such as the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL). This means that we want the replacement to be a credit union, not another bank.

Wells Fargo is directly contributing to the oppression and exploitation of our communities by financing both private prisons and the Dakota Access Pipeline. Many successful actions have been taken against Wells Fargo, and other banks, due to their funding of exploitative industries. The students at UCI know that it is time for us to take action. If UCI wants to be considered an ethical and inclusive university they must remove Wells Fargo from its campus.

Below is the demand letter that we will be sending to UCI Chancellor Howard Gillman. We urge you to sign the petition and circulate it widely to let the university administration know that the UCI community does not want an oppressive institution such as Wells Fargo on their campus.

1 Introduction

Chancellor Gillman,

In recent events, the UC system has been making some steps, after being pressured by the demands of the UC Black Student Unions, towards divesting from businesses that are inherently oppressive and destructive to our communities.

For example:

While this can be seen as a step in the right direction, the UC system has a long way to go before it can be considered an ethical institution. In the midst of so many concessions of being complicit in oppressive behavior and attempts to rectify the situation, we are pointing out one glaring problem: The Wells Fargo bank, financiers of oppression and perpetrators of discrimination, still remains on the UCI campus.

2 Demands

  1. We demand the Wells Fargo bank be removed from the UCI campus. It is unacceptable that such an oppressive institution be allowed on campus and we demand that UCI not be complicit in our oppression and exploitation.
  2. We demand a credit union on campus that is available to all students. Wells Fargo is only a subset of a much larger problem: for-profit banking. We demand an inherently ethical institution whose sole purpose is to serve its members, not put profits over people.

3 Wells Fargo’s Inexcusable Actions

Wells Fargo is financing both private prisons and the Dakota Access Pipeline. It has also been involved in many cases of racial discrimination. Though the disgusting nature of these activities is patently clear, we will reiterate their egregious nature.

3.1 Private Prisons

Private prisons make a commodity out of human imprisonment. It incentivises the owners of private prisons to see to it that minor offenses get the harshest punishment possible. To see this in action, one need not look any further than the “kids for cash” scandal in Pennsylvania in which a judge was paid off by private prisons to put children in juvenile prison for as long as possible. These kids had their freedom taken away for something as little as making fun of their principal on MySpace. One even committed suicide. In the political realm, they make it clear that they want to profit off of human imprisonment as they lobby politicians to create brutally unjust sentencing laws. Not only does this endanger all of our freedom, but it deteriorates our communities as it perpetuates the cycle of poverty and violence.

Private prisons don’t stop there. They make a killing off of prison labor in which prisoners work for less than a dollar an hour. This is nothing short of modern day slavery. In addition, they run immigrant detention centers and they give the state quotas for how many beds need to be filled, causing more harassment, abuse, and distress for undocumented immigrants.

It is imperative that UCI ban this institution that supports modern day slavery, child abuse, and exploitation.

3.2 Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL)

The Water Protectors at Standing Rock have been doing their best to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline from endangering their water and they have been subjected to many human rights abuses because of it. Militarized police have been violent and cruel. Dogs have been sicced on them, they have been sprayed with water trucks in below freezing temperatures, and have been assaulted while peacefully praying.

The people who rely on the water from Lake Oahe urgently need as many people as possible to take a stand. In fact, Seattle has voted to divest $3 billion from Wells Fargo due to their support of DAPL, with many cities looking to do the same. The UC system divested $475 million from Wells Fargo. UCI needs to follow suit and remove the Wells Fargo bank from its campus.

3.3 Discriminatory Lending

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.

4 Credit Union Alternative

Wells Fargo is the result of an institution which puts profits over people called for-profit banking. Many other banks are already participating in, or have incentive to participate in, the human rights violations that Wells Fargo is a part of. Having Wells Fargo replaced with another bank is simply substituting one oppressor for another. We demand that a credit union that can serve all students be set up in its place. Unlike banks, credit unions are nonprofit institutions who are only responsible to their members, not shareholders. This makes them inherently uninterested in funding oppression.

As you know, there is a credit union on campus, SchoolsFirst FCU, however, it is only available to school employees. We are happy with this institution, but we need an additional credit union that is available to all students on campus. While there may be bureaucratic complexities involved, it is the job of UCI, as an institution aspiring for inclusivity and ethical behavior, to implement a credit union open to all students.

5 Summary

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. We demand UCI take action by removing them from our campus and replacing them; not with another bank, but with a credit union. Recently, yourself, Chancellor Gillman, signed a letter to Donald telling him to rescind his xenophobic executive order. It is only right that this sentiment be backed up with concrete 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.

6 Demand Respond By Date

We would like to have a response within a weeks time on this issue as we want to make sure that we as the UCI community are not complicit in this injustice and are actively working towards making the campus an inclusive and ethically responsible space.