By: Jonathan Baca, Staff Reporter
Students Complain of Bankers on Campus
Political Science major Bob Bilodeau said he thinks that CNM may be giving Wells Fargo Bank special privileges on campus.
Representatives for the bank were on campus during the fall 2012 disbursement day on Sept. 21 offering students free check cashing, said Bilodeau. When students went to the bank for the service, they were subjected to multiple high-pressure sales pitches to open accounts and credit cards, he said.
“Wells Fargo was the only bank with representatives. They basically had what felt like unrestricted, exclusive access all over the campus,” said Bilodeau.
A service manager at the Richmond and Central branch who refused to give her name confirmed that Wells Fargo was on Main campus on Sept. 21 with the purpose of promoting checking accounts to students.
CNM President and Wells Fargo Community Board member Kathie Winograd said that this practice is part of the disbursement deal made with Wells Fargo as a way to offer students a helpful service. She said she felt that the benefits of Wells Fargo’s involvement in the disbursement process outweighed the negatives.
“We felt that free check cashing was a positive for the student, not a negative. If students felt strong-armed, I’m sorry about that. I think it’s something that our Financial Aid office probably needs to talk to Wells Fargo about,” said Winograd. “I’m sorry that they felt uncomfortable but I knew they were going to do that and I see that as an opportunity for us to offer a service to the students,” she said.
Psychology major Richard Gleisner said that he went to Main campus to get his check and was approached by a Wells Fargo bank teller who gave him her business card and told him to take his business to the Central and Richmond location.
However, Gleisner said that when he went to a Wells Fargo branch, he was told that he had to speak to a bank be cashed. He said he was taken into an office where he received a high-pressure sales pitch to open a checking account. When he declined, he was told to go to the teller, where he received the same sales pitch again. manager before his check could
“Not only am I being approached — and pretty much ambushed — by the bank manager, I’m being told the same damn thing from a bank teller as well: how I need to open an account with them,” said Gleisner.
He also said that Winograd’s connection to the bank made him concerned about a possibility of a conflict of interests.
Director of Marketing and Communications Brad Moore said that the purpose of the Community Board is to provide Wells Fargo with feedback on products and services, and to help Wells Fargo better serve the community.
Winograd said she was asked to sit on the board a little over a year ago and that sitting on community boards is an important part of her job.
“We focus internally on our faculty and staff and how they can best serve our students. But CNM is also a public institution and building community is significant to what we do. So my role as President is to make sure that we are connected to that community, that we are a participant and know what is happening and how this college can contribute to a viable community, and I think that that is what I’m doing on every board I serve on” she said.
The list of member expectations for the Community Board, which was provided by Moore, listed the following directives:
“Attend all meetings and keep them confidential.
Identify business partnership opportunities for Wells Fargo Business Development.
Actively identify and introduce new customer opportunites.
Maintain banking relationships with Wells Fargo.”
Winograd said she has nothing to do with the process for selecting which bank CNM does business with, and that the Purchasing Department is in charge of the decision.
She said she felt that Wells Fargo’s charitable contributions to the school have been important, but that many other businesses have made similar donations.
“I don’t see Wells Fargo any differently than I see a lot of businesses and organizations in this city that support this college,” said Winograd.
Director of Purchasing Charlotte Gensler said the Business Department actually manages the contract with Wells Fargo, and that her department is only involved if contractual or performance problems arise.
Calls made to the Business Department were not immediately returned.
Bilodeau said this experience has given him doubts about the school’s business dealings.
“I think students definitely deserve to know whose interests are being served. Is the administration looking out for them, or is CNM turning into another institution that’s going to grab their money and do what they want?” said he said.