UC Berkeley students outraged by on-campus bank's ties to ICE

Grace Gottschling
Investigative Reporter

  • An editorial in UC Berkeley's student newspaper calls on the school to cancel a 10-year contract with its on-campus bank because the bank's parent company has invested in private prisons with ties to ICE.
  • BNP Paribas, a French bank that owns Bank of the West, has agreed to conduct an internal review of its investments after university officials relayed the "concerns" expressed by students.
  • University of California, Berkeley students want the university to cut ties with its on-campus bank because it does business with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

    In an editorial Thursday, The Daily Californian argues that the school should break a ten-year contract with Bank of the West, which is owned by BNP Paribas, an international French bank that has invested in several private U.S. prisons that happen to have contracts with ICE, according to an earlier Daily Californian article

    "In 2015, when UC Berkeley’s 10-year contract with Bank of the West was announced, it was predicted that the campus would make $17 million from this partnership."   

    The editorial argues that the associated connection with ICE is “unacceptable” considering that “the University of California has an estimated 4,000 undocumented students on its campuses, 500 of whom are at UC Berkeley.” 

    [RELATED: UC Berkeley allocating up to $800k for 'undocumented' students]

    “When UC Berkeley is tied to companies like this, so is its revenue,” the editorial points out. “In 2015, when UC Berkeley’s 10-year contract with Bank of the West was announced, it was predicted that the campus would make $17 million from this partnership. This money is tied, however indirectly, to the abhorrent practice of separating families at the border.

    “If UC Berkeley really wants to show its commitment to supporting its undocumented community members, it needs to end its partnership with Bank of the West as long as BNP Paribas continues to maintain its holdings in these private prison companies,” the editorial argues.

    “It’s time to call on donors and sponsors to fill the hole Bank of the West would leave,” the editorial staff adds. “Ultimately, money comes and goes, but an association with moral corruption is something that will leave a stain on this campus for decades.”

    [RELATED: UC Berkeley preparing students for possible ICE 'sweeps']

    UC Berkeley, for its part, is reacting cautiously to the petition, saying that it is withholding judgment until Bank of the West conducts an internal review of the students’ claims.

    “At the time of the initial publication in The Daily Californian, UC Berkeley was unaware of the investments made by the bank's parent company, BNP Paribas,” university spokesman Roqua Montez told Campus Reform. “Since becoming aware of this information, the campus has voiced its concerns to Bank of the West, which has prompted both Bank of the West and BNP Paribas to conduct an internal evaluation into the details of the investment. They plan to have an updated report to our campus within the next few days.” 

    “UC Berkeley is committed to ensuring our campus community and all partner relationships align with the university's values, standards, and mission,” Montez added. “Once we’ve received the updated report from the bank, we will review internally with our banking working group and campus leadership. At that point we will provide additional information.”

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    Grace Gottschling

    Grace Gottschling

    Investigative Reporter

    Grace Gottschling is the Investigative Reporter for Campus Reform. She is a recent graduate of The College of New Jersey, where she wrote for the university newspaper. Grace was the vice president of the pro-life club on her campus and has experience traveling across the country to engage and train others in pro-life apologetics.

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