LaSalle to leave campus

Amy Hamblin and Amy Hamblin

LaSalle Bank will close its Norris University Center branch June 25 and divert customers to the Evanston branch at 1336 Chicago Ave. The branch transfer will be automatic and will not require customer action, according to a letter from the bank.

Many students were shocked to find the letter from LaSalle in their mailboxes Monday and Tuesday, informing them of the change.

“In order to accommodate the growing needs of our customers at the Northwestern University branch,” the letter stated, “we have decided to consolidate with another branch.”

Although not all students with accounts have received the letter, they should soon find it in their mailboxes. The one-page letter shows a map of the location of other branches and lists some of the benefits of banking at the Evanston branch on Chicago Avenue. Services at the Evanston branch include more teller stations, drive-up banking and safe-deposit boxes.

In spite of the letters, LaSalle’s public relations director, Shawn Platt, said he was unaware of the consolidation and the notification given to students by the bank.

Eugene Sunshine, NU’s senior vice president for business and finance, said he would not speculate about the reasoning behind LaSalle’s decision.

“There are things under way that I cannot comment on until they are finished,” Sunshine said.

He added he could not say when the “things under way” would be finalized.

Although the letter from LaSalle to university customers states that rerouting students to the Chicago Avenue branch provides them with “added value” and “greater convenience,” many students disputed that claim.

“Closing their branch seems like a real lack of service to their clients,” said Lia DeRoin, a Music and Weinberg freshman. “I would be really inconvenienced.”

A frequent user of the on-campus ATMs, DeRoin is more worried about the ATMs switching ownership to a different company if NU enters into a contract with another bank. DeRoin said she will likely set up an account with any new bank that takes over operation of the ATMs.

William Johnston, the Norris director, declined to comment about the LaSalle’s departure from campus or what would be filling the space in the building.

Since many students prefer LaSalle because of its proximity, Tamara Kagel, vice president of student services for the Associated Student Government, said she wouldn’t be surprised if many people were deeply upset about the removal of the branch.

Acting in her role with ASG, she said she urges students to let the university know of their concern and push for another bank to come to campus.

“There is no reason why the university should have a contract with a bank not on campus,” said Kagel, a Communication senior.

On the Senate floor, Kagel said she has heard students voice their desire for a new bank to replace LaSalle. She noted that ASG, however, is not in the position to sign a contract with another bank.

“I have heard complaints in the past,” Kagel said, “but nothing serious or widespread.”

Emily Haak, a Weinberg freshman, said when she banked in Norris, the line was never more than just one person.

“According to my experiences, maybe they are closing because of lack of business and clientele,” Haak said.

Despite the short lines, she said she was still taken aback to learn of the closure.

An Elder Hall resident, Haak said she will grudgingly make the walk down south to the new location. She said she will be eager to switch banks if another one puts its ATMs on campus.

She also said LaSalle annoyed her by broadcasting the fact that it is the “official bank of Northwestern” but now has chosen to withdraw from campus.