Administration Denies Student Testimony, Claims Wells Fargo Decision Not Yet Final

In response to the article published in last week’s Quest, “Senate’s Wells Fargo Appeal Fails, Trustee Resigns After Divestment Vote,” Executive Director of Communications and Public Affairs Mandy Heaton asserted that the Board of Trustees did not vote on Reed’s vendor relationship Wells Fargo in their February meeting.

Heaton included the full text of an email that Acting President Hugh Porter sent to Student Body President Pax Lloyd-Burchett, Vice President Isabel Hoff, and the student members of the ad hoc committee on Wells Fargo, Gabi Stonoha ‘21 and Natasha Baas-Thomas ‘19.

Porter writes, “My brief summary would note that the board did not vote on the Ad Hoc Wells Fargo Committee’s recommendations, that the conversation included recognition of the negative impact that Wells Fargo’s past actions had on consumers, the board’s purview in choosing vendors, including banks, and the framework or values that would guide decisions when the board decided to intervene or when a complaint against a particular vendor was received. There was support for beginning a process for evaluating our banking relationship and a request for staff to outline such a process, including a timeline.”

This assertion directly contradicts the information given by both Stonoha and Baas-Thomas, who told the Quest that despite a majority of the members of the Wells Fargo committee in favor of divestment, the Board voted to maintain the vendor relationship between the college and the bank. [See “Senate’s Wells Fargo Appeal Fails, Trustee Resigns After Divestment Vote” for the full story]

In the email from Porter, sent February 11, he asserts, “I do not want to preempt trustees’ report of these conversations, and I expect you will receive such a document soon and certainly by the end of the month.” As of March 20, no such report has been issued. The email indicates that the report should have been released by March 1 at the latest.

As the Quest reported, ex-trustee Matthew Bergman, who served as one of three trustees on the Wells Fargo committee, resigned shortly following the Board’s meeting. Bergman did not disclose the reasons for his resignation. Porter’s email implies that he resigned “based on his understanding of the board’s discussion. As this action indicates, feelings among trustees do run high about issues of social justice that also motivate many students.”

The Quest had requested a meeting to answer the following question unrelated to the Board’s decision: “When is the [Wells Fargo] contract up for renegotiation, renewal, or expiration?”

Vice President and Treasurer Lorraine Arvin refused to meet with the Quest to answer questions about Reed’s contract with Wells Fargo. “Given that the Wells Fargo matter is still in the process of being discussed by the Board of Trustees, I do not feel that it is appropriate for me to meet with the Quest to answer a set of questions on this topic outside of this process,” she said.

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