- Georgetown students voted by a wide margin to hike their own tuition fees and create a reparations fund for the descendants of 272 slaves the school sold in 1838.
- Students had argued that the school would have gone bankrupt at the time if not for the sale, and that the funds should benefit the estimated 4,000 living descendants of those slaves.
- The vote is non-binding, and the fund can only be created if the university’s board of directors approves it.
- Georgetown University made headlines in 2016 after the school announced it would give admissions preference to the descendants of those slaves.
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Students at Georgetown University on Thursday voted by nearly a two-to-one margin to hike their own tuition and create a reparations fund that would benefit the descendants of 272 enslaved people the school sold nearly 200 years ago.
The Georgetown University Students Association’s Election Commission said 66% of students voted to create the fund, and 34% voted against.
The vote is non-binding, and the fund can only be created if the university’s board of directors approves it.
The new fund would mean each student would have to pay a fee of $US27.20 per semester, which students estimated would raise $US203,000 from the school’s 7,463 undergraduate students.
Students said a board of trustees comprised of five current Georgetown students and five descendants of slaves would allocate the funds. Some of the early proposals suggested funding eye exams, K-12 education, school supplies, college scholarships, and internet access for the estimated 4,000 descendants who have been identified.
Todd Olson, Georgetown’s vice president for student affairs, released a statement on Friday that gave little indication whether administrators would adopt or reject the measure. He said only that “there are many approaches that enable our community to respond to the legacies of slavery.”
The statement added the student referendum will “help guide our continued engagement” with the university community and the descendants of slaves.
“Our students are contributing to an important national conversation and we share their commitment to addressing Georgetown’s history with slavery,” Olson said.
In 2016, Georgetown made headlines after it announced it would give admissions preference to the descendants of the 272 slaves.
Georgetown’s student union had backed the fund proposal, saying in a statement that it was the sale of those slaves that stopped the school from going bankrupt in 1838.
“As students of Georgetown, our presence at this institution would not be possible were it not for the sale of 272 enslaved individuals by the Maryland Province of the Society of Jesus in the early 18th century,” the statement said.
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