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On-campus ATM gets low usage

Helena Guan

The ATM machine on campus is not used as much as Mills College officials had hoped upon its purchase.

The ATM generates an average of 250 transactions per month, according to Vice President for Finance and Administration and Treasurer LaDene Diamond. That is a relatively low number considering the over 1,400 students enrolled.

Diamond said the highest number of transactions in a month was 312 last May. “But it’s hard to tell how many people are actually using the machine,” she added. “We don’t know if the same people are using the machine multiple times. The number only represents the total number of transactions made on the machine.”

The cash-only machine is located in Rothwell Center, a central location for the campus community that was recommended by the bank itself. It was installed in December of 2007, and is run through Bank of the West, the bank that Mills uses for its financial needs.

Then acting Vice President for Finance and Administration and Treasurer Joan Braun helped orchestrate the proposal, before Diamond arrived last February. Mills contracted to buy the ATM for $40,000 over five years, according to Diamond.

“Mills worked very hard to have the ATM put in as a service for the students. We did not put in the ATM as a profit center but we certainly want to ensure that the benefit to our students and staff is worth the cost,” she said.

Yet those withdrawing funds from an institution other than Bank of the West are charged a $3 withdrawal fee for each transaction, on top of any fees from their own bank, which has deterred many students from using the machine.

Freshwoman Melodie Miu is among them. “I haven’t used the ATM yet, but I don’t really see myself using it. I don’t want to pay the extra fee. I would probably only find myself using it in emergencies,” she said.

Another resource for students is the Cashier’s Office, which cashes checks up to $50 without a fee.

For those students whose banks are not easily accessible in the surrounding area, such as those with banks out of state, the ATM is a viable option.

First year MFA student in poetry, Kiala Givehand, does use the machine. “My bank is in Florida, so that’s why I’m using the machine. But this is only my second time using it,” she said.

According to College Board, 27 percent of first year undergraduate students are from out-of-state, compared to 73 percent that are California residents at Mills.

According to Linda Guzman of the Office of Graduate Admission, there are a total of 418 California residents and 90 from out of state in graduate programs at Mills.

Bank of the West states on its website that it is “the second-largest commercial bank based in California” and has 342 ATMs in California alone.

Other large banks that students use are Bank of America and Wells Fargo, which have branches in the Laurel District and Berkeley, respectively.

In an effort to advertise the ATM, Diamond said an e-mail will be sent out to faculty and staff informing them of its location, and the Division of Student Life will be working to inform students. Diamond also talked about advertising the ATM in prospective or new student materials as well, although it is already advertised in the Student Handbook.