"We understand that the goals of the student referendum are to honor the 272 enslaved individuals sold by the Maryland Jesuits in 1838".
A "Reconciliation Contribution" fee of $27.20 each semester will benefit descendents of the 272 slaves. The fee was opposed by 1,304.
However, critics of the fund say it is an arbitrary amount that will not address any real issues, or that it should be the burden of the institution, not the students, to repay descendants of slaves.
The move comes as Democratic presidential candidates debate whether the USA should provide compensation to the descendants of African-American slaves.
Several Democratic candidates for the White House, such as former Mayor Julian Castro, former Rep. Beto O'Rourke, and Senators Elizabeth Warren and Kirsten Gillibrand, have referred to the issue and have been in favor of some form of reparation. The resolution must still be approved by the university to go into effect.
The push for the fund followed a report in 2015 on the university's historical ties with slavery. However, the university did not implement any such initiative.
The Descendant Community, the Society of Jesus, and Georgetown are working together towards reconciliation and transformation regarding the legacy of slavery. "The University has made a commitment to further our efforts in dialogue and partnership with the Descendant community, seeking to promote work that draws on the inherent strengths and expertise of our community in collaboration with the Descendant and Jesuit communities and that promotes racial justice".
The referendum is non-binding, and any such fee would need approval from Georgetown administrators.
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