U.S. Bank has closed its UC Davis branch office and told UC officials that it is terminating its agreements with the campus. In a March 1 letter to the Board of Regents, the bank stated its reason as the interference by protesters who intermittently blocked the door to the bank branch in the Memorial Union since January.
The bank chose to close during many of the protests, and, now, in a letter to account holders, says the branch is "officially closed" (as of Feb. 28). The letter refers the approximately 2,500 account holders to U.S. Bank branches in Davis and Woodland.
UC officials said they believe the termination letter is premature, noting that the university had been in discussions with bank representatives about the future of the branch office. The university had hoped to resolve the situation in a manner that would enable the bank to resume operations while at the same time making allowance for law enforcement to prosecute proven violations of the California Penal Code and also allowing for peaceful protests.
An engagement team made up of a police negotiator, professional mediator and Student Affairs representative had visited the protest site regularly, warning protesters of the potential for criminal prosecution.
As of today (March 16), UC Davis police had forwarded six cases to the Yolo County district attorney’s office, recommending prosecution for violating Penal Code sections that make it a misdemeanor to “willfully and maliciously” obstruct the free movement of any person on any street, sidewalk or other public place, or to intentionally interfere with any lawful business.
Mike Cabral, assistant chief deputy district attorney, said March 15 that the district attorney’s office had not yet completed its review of the case files — and that a decision on whether to prosecute is likely to come Monday or Tuesday (March 19 or 20). If the decision is made to go forward, the district attorney’s office will notify the suspects by mail, ordering them to appear in court.
U.S. Bank employees “were effectively imprisoned in the branch,” bank Senior Vice President Daniel Hoke said in his March 1 letter. He noted that employees felt they needed to call campus police to escort them from the branch.
Other protests on campus during this academic year have included an overnight occupation of Mrak Hall, tent encampments on the Quad, a two-week-long occupation of Dutton Hall and a four-day occupation of the former Cross Cultural Center.
“We’re disappointed that U.S. Bank has indicated that it wants to leave after UC Davis worked with students to find creative financial solutions during these difficult budget times,” said Associate Vice Chancellor Emily Galindo of Student Affairs.
UC Davis has referred the matter to outside counsel to evaluate the legal consequences of the bank’s termination of its agreements with the university.
Several banks maintain automated teller machines on campus, but U.S. Bank was the only one with an on-campus branch — one of 21 U.S. Bank branches on college campuses in 10 states.
In addition to operating the UC Davis branch office, U.S. Bank installed seven ATMs around the campus, supplied campus ID cards, offered a financial management seminar for incoming students and parents, and contributed financial support to student programs.
The agreements last year generated $167,000 for student programs. The bank had guaranteed annual payments of $130,000 to $780,000, based on the number of accounts activated, which could have meant nearly $3 million for student services over 10 years.
Background information about the partnership between UC Davis and U.S. Bank:
University of California, Davis, Corporate Partnership Initiative Program Principles (PDF, UC Davis Division of Student Affairs, 2008-09)
Student Affairs and U.S. Bank (PDF, UC Davis Division of Student Affairs, 2.21.12)
FAQ for the UC Davis-U.S. Bank Partnership (PDF, UC Davis Division of Student Affairs, 2009)