Georgetown Students Vote to Pay Annual Slavery Reparations Fee

The Associated Press
Ben Margot/AP

Georgetown University students voted this week in favor of a resolution that will force them to pay an annual slavery reparations fee.

Students at Georgetown University passed a referendum this week that seeks to address the fact that the institution once owned slaves. In 1838, the university sold the slaves to pay off its debts. As a result of the resolution, students will now be charged an additional $27.20 per semester. The amount was chosen to represent the 272 slaves that Georgetown University sold in 1838.

Over two-thirds of those who voted favored the new reparations fee. The money collected from the new student fee will go towards the creation of a fund that will be donated to schools and health care programs in Louisiana, where 4,000 known descendants of the 272 Georgetown slaves now reside.

In a statement, Georgetown University Vice President for Student Affairs Dr. Todd Olson said that the university has met with the descendants of the slaves that were once owned by the institution.

Since 2015, Georgetown has been working to address its historical relationship to slavery and will continue to do so. Georgetown has taken initial steps to seek reconciliation, beginning with offering a formal apology to Descendants; renaming two buildings, including one for Isaac Hawkins, the first person named in the 1838 sale; and offering Descendants the same consideration in admissions that it gives members of the Georgetown community.

Since President DeGioia traveled to Louisiana in June 2016, Georgetown has met with many Descendants and heard many important ideas about how we might move forward together. The Descendant Community, the Society of Jesus, and Georgetown are working together towards reconciliation and transformation regarding the legacy of slavery. The W.K. Kellogg Foundation is providing its knowledge, experience, and resources to facilitate this work. The process is anchored in the practice of trust-building, truth-telling, racial healing, and transformation.

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