On campus beat: Protesters ask Macalester to cut ties to Wells Fargo

  • Article by: JENNA ROSS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 24, 2013 - 6:22 PM

The bagpipes quieted, and the chants began: “Banks got bailed out! We got sold out!”

More than 60 students and activists gathered Tuesday at Macalester College to protest the school’s decision to bank with Wells Fargo. The group, called Kick Wells Fargo Off Campus, or KWOC, duct-taped signs to the ivy covering Weyerhaeuser Hall, home to the president’s office.

Inside, about 15 students sat, refusing to leave.

The protest targeted Wells Fargo, the nation’s biggest residential mortgage lender, and its foreclosure practices.

“We believe Macalester ought to be working with a bank that has a positive impact in our community,” said senior Rebecca Hornstein, “instead of one causing destruction.”

For months, students have talked with administrators, requesting that the St. Paul college move its purchasing card program, which employees use to buy supplies or services for the college, to a community bank. Officials recently announced that after “seriously considering” the group’s request, “Macalester has decided to leave the current arrangement in place.”

KWOC has had “a big presence on campus, and it seems to be getting bigger,” said Hana Masri, a senior studying international studies and political science. She came Tuesday partly to hear the school’s reasoning.

In a four-page letter to KWOC, David Wheaton, vice president for finance and administration, said that “the roots of the mortgage crisis are complex.”

“In the end,” he said, “we concluded that singling out Wells Fargo and moving a small piece of the college’s banking business … is not the right course of action for us.”

About 25 students stayed inside the building overnight, Hornstein said. Protests continued Wednesday. Hip-hop artist Brother Ali spoke at a midday rally.

“The administration seems to believe that staying with the status quo was the easier decision,” she said. “So we’re trying to make it a little harder.”

 

Jenna Ross • 612-673-7168 Twitter: @ByJenna

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