In what seems a pattern of overt financial and educational pivots toward reforming Columbia into a “Global University,” Campus Services’ Scott Wright in an email two weeks ago announced the termination of Columbia’s “banking service agreement” with CitiBank. Instead, a “committee of representatives from Columbia Finance, Student Financial Services, Campus Services and Student Life” decided to transfer Columbia’s contract award to another of the alternate six vendors—Santander.
While the replacement of the CitiBank ATMs in Lerner with those of Santander began this past week—frustrating, we’re sure, the hundreds of students who opened accounts with CitiBank due to Columbia’s former contract with the New York based bank—this decision is allegedly rooted in January of this year. The transfer of services from CitiBank, which Deantini might have christened in “Columbia College style” the “greatest bank at the greatest university in the greatest city in the world,” to Santander grants “no-fee banking from the ages of 16 to 25, low or no-cost banking for faculty and staff, no-fee mobile transfers, no-fee incoming international and domestic wire transfers for student value checking accounts, and convenient on-campus ATMs”—though we’re pretty certain almost all these were previously available with CitiBank.
CitiBank found its origins in New York in 1812, growing with Columbia and New York through the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries. While CitiBank did receive taxpayer provided bail out money after the Recession, the firm paid the government back in full, with interest. Santander, on the other hand, was founded in 1857 in Santander, Spain. After World War II, Santander expanded into the Caribbean and Latin America, representing, at times, the financial arm of entrenched colonialist regimes. Its expansion into North America consisted of financially overtaking and absorbing another American-founded firm, Sovereign Bank—though not before the Santander-dominated Sovereign Bank initiated the takeover of Brooklyn based Independence Community Bank Corp. Taking over American banks and eliminating competition seems to be Santander’s modus operandi.
When viewed in this light, then, the agreement between Santander and Columbia just has to reflect the construction of PrezBo’s “university on a hill” global image, as we all know nothing portrays the splendor of globalization better than our university ending its relationship with a fellow New York firm—a bank that repaid its debt to the American people, at that—in favor of a foreign entity with ties to colonialist regimes of Latin America.
Oh, and supposedly:
Santander currently supports the University’s Global Centers based in Brazil, Eastern & Southern Africa
We’re sure that has nothing to do with this. Isn’t globalization just great?
You can find Scott Wright’s full email and announcement below:
Dear Columbia Community,
I am pleased to share that the University is changing to a banking service agreement that offers a more robust package of discounts for faculty, staff and students, beginning in June. The new service package is provided by Santander, and includes no-fee banking from the ages of 16 to 25, low or no-cost banking for faculty and staff, no-fee mobile transfers, no-fee incoming international and domestic wire transfers for student value checking accounts, and convenient on-campus ATMs.
Accordingly, the banks will begin the transition of our on-campus ATMs to Santander during the week of May 23. We expect this process to be complete by June 10.
We recognize that this process may cause inconvenience to you, and we apologize in advance for this temporary disruption. For your reference, we have prepared a map of the ATMs and Banking Centers. We will also post signs at each ATM in the coming weeks explaining the nature of the transition and timing details.
In January 2016, the University embarked on an extensive review of campus banking, involving a Request for Proposal and presentations from seven potential vendors including Citibank. We convened a committee of representatives from Columbia Finance, Student Financial Services, Campus Services and Student Life to review the existing bank agreement and make a recommendation for the contract award. Columbia arrived at the decision to change our banking agreement after careful consideration of feedback from faculty, staff and students, and extensive review of the vendor proposals.
Ultimately, the committee unanimously concluded that Santander offers the best available overall program at this time, based on several key criteria:
· No-Fee banking from the age of 16-25
· No-Fee ATMs in Lerner Hall and Bard Hall, in proximity to where students reside
· Low- or no-cost banking for faculty and staff
· No-Fee incoming international and domestic wire transfers for student value checking accounts
· No-Fee mobile transfers to both Santander users and non-Santander users
· Appealing mobile option, with more robust options slated for Fall 2016
· Education and universities are a key focus for Santander, both at the retail level and philanthropically
· Santander currently supports the University’s Global Centers based in Brazil, Eastern & Southern Africa
· An established international presence, particularly in South America and Europe
If you would like to consider banking with Santander, please see the below list of resources, which includes information about their banking packages, branch locations, and other services:
· About Santander: https://www.santanderbank.com/us/about/about-us#who
· Commitment to Education: https://www.santanderbank.com/us/universities
· Checking: https://www.santanderbank.com/us/personal/banking/checking
· Digital Banking: https://www.santanderbank.com/us/personal/banking/digital-banking/digital-banking-overview
· Frequently Asked Questions: https://customerservice.santanderbank.com/
For information on continued benefits through Citibank, please contact your local branch.
Again, thank you for your patience during this time of transition.
Scott J. Wright
Vice President, Campus Services
1896 never forget via William Robinson Leigh/Public Domain