Published: Sun, April 14, 2019

Georgetown students to vote on slavery reparations fund

Georgetown students to vote on slavery reparations fund

The university has previously apologized for the sale of the 272 slaves that funded the school, however, it never offered to pay any reparations to the descendants of those slaves, instead naming a campus building after one of those slaves.

The proposal calls for increased tuition at 27.20 dollars per semester to create a fund that would benefit the descendants of the 272 slaves sold by the university to pay off the debt of the Georgetown Jesuits and financially save the institution in 1838.

The university's elections commission reported that almost 60% of students turned out to vote on Thursday. Turnout was 57.9 percent.

The student-led referendum was organised by the group Students for the GU272. Fees would go toward projects in underprivileged communities where some 4,000 descendants live, including Maringouin, Louisiana. According to CNN, this would make it one of the first reparations fund created at a major U.S. educational institution.

Others have wondered how the proposal was going to work and have asked questions about accountability and transparency.

"The school wouldn't be here without them", Georgetown junior and GU272 descendant Shepard Thomas said, according to The NYT. They went on to labor "under awful conditions", according to a September 2016 Georgetown report that called on university leaders to demand "reparative justice" for the institution's actions. The referendum isn't binding, however, and would still need to get the OK from the university's board of trustees.

In recent years, universities across the US have been acknowledging their ties to slavery and have made pledges to atone for their past.

In the journal Social Science Quarterly, a University of CT researcher, Thomas Craemer estimated that it would cost between $5.9 trillion and $14.2 trillion to give historical reparations.

"There are many approaches that enable our community to respond to the legacies of slavery", he said.

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