Big Money On campus
They’re there every day, or it at least feels like it.
It doesn’t matter what exactly you’re doing in the moment: you could be having a conversation, listening to music or power-walking to class. It doesn’t matter to them.
You’re a relatively poor student who needs some quick money, and they’re the lucky bank that has signed a contract with our university to have the right to accost us in the middle of Main Street.
We’re talking, of course, about the Bank of Montreal, more commonly known as BMO. Their stand is annoyingly placed between the library and the bookstore — it’s probably the best place in the school for a for-profit bank to set up shop to hand out their “Affinity” credit cards to the needy, with the exception of adjacent to the Tim Hortons line.
And you know, we get it. The university needs money. An upcoming budget crunch makes the situation even worse. And if it really comes down to it, the options are going to be taking money from a third-party source (like the bank), upping tuition fees or cutting costs.
But to allow a gigantic bank to distribute credit cards to a demographic who are already incurring massive debts (often upwards of $60,000) is a pretty disgusting alternative.
A scathing article by Bloomberg Businessweek from a few years back quoted a consumer affairs professor who stated that “these contracts are really money-makers for the school, and not about services to the students.”
BMO setting up shop in Main Street is not about student financial well-being.
Schools should be ambassadors for financial responsibility, and we all know that credit card companies aren’t in it for us. They’re in it for their stakeholders, and the more interest that builds up on our accounts, the better.
By allowing BMO the sole right to hawk their cards on Main Street, MRU is implicitly endorsing their product, regardless of the potential negative effects on students’ finances.
Why is our educational institution up for sale to banks? Are we all powerless to argue it?