Staff Editorial

Veronica Devore

It’s that time of year again–the season when money disappears faster than usual and when almost all of the summer’s hard-earned cash goes towards tuition, books, supplies and various fees. One fee that Lawrence students should not have to pay this fall is the $2 charge every time they pull money out of the union’s ATM.
While it is true that most ATMs now charge an access fee for withdrawing cash, many larger college campuses offer alternatives to students. For example, the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities and the University of Wisconsin-Madison have designated credit unions and banks that provide surcharge-free machines on campus.
Although Lawrence is a much smaller school, it too is home to numerous students without a steady income. All students should be able to withdraw money free of surcharge, regardless of their university’s size or location.
ATMs that charge an access fee also raise important safety concerns, especially on college campuses. To avoid paying multiple fees, cardholders often withdraw large amounts of cash at once and either carry it with them or store it at home. With most students in the close quarters of dorms and apartments, the risk of theft or loss becomes much greater.
In fact, banks often advise students to withdraw small amounts of cash for this reason. However, withdrawing $20 once a week or so is not economical when there is a $2 surcharge each time. Students may also be uncomfortable withdrawing large amounts of cash at the ATM’s high-traffic location.
The location of Lawrence’s ATM in the union also lends itself to withdrawing smaller amounts of money more often. Most students just need a few dollars to buy a sandwich at the grill or a drink at the VR but are forced to shell out fees every time they need a little cash.
Although students could go to their respective banks for surcharge-free cash, the ATM on campus is designed for convenience and is meant to save precious time. Unfortunately, Lawrentians are often forced to accept the fee because they have no other choice.
Finally, if there is no way around surcharges, the university should at least choose a bank where many Lawrence students hold accounts as the ATM provider. Banks do not charge their own cardholders, and an ATM from a bank close to campus would at least help some students avoid fees.
The current ATM in the union is from Associated Bank, whose nearest branch is a mile from campus. Banks such as North Shore, US Bank, and M&I are all within a half mile of Lawrence and are much more likely places for Lawrentians to have bank accounts because of their close proximity to campus.
While ATM surcharges are becoming more and more a fact of life, as much as possible should be done to help college students avoid them. We are a population with specific expenses as well as monetary and safety concerns that need to be addressed when choosing an on-campus ATM provider.