Students at Georgetown Approve Fund to Benefit Slave Descendants

Clay Curtis
April 14, 2019

'Our students are contributing to an important national conversation...'

Georgetown University students have voted in favor of a referendum seeking the establishment of a fund that benefits the descendants of enslaved people who were sold by the school in the 1800s to pay off its debts.

The fund created from the initiative would go to projects in disadvantaged communities where some descendants live, including education and health care centers in Louisiana and Maryland.

Creation of the reparations fund was approved in a student referendum and the results were announced late Thursday.

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

The fund would be the first of its kind in the country.

The fee would be $27.20 for each student per semester.

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The university said the referendum "provides valuable insight" but did not say whether it would honor the student vote or not.

The move comes as Democratic presidential candidates debate whether the USA should provide compensation to the descendants of African-American slaves.

The Descendant Community, the Society of Jesus, and Georgetown are working together towards reconciliation and transformation regarding the legacy of slavery.

Barack Obama, America's first black president, and 2016 Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton did not support compensation for the descendants of slaves.

But several 2020 Democratic hopefuls, including senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, have said they would sign a reparations bill if elected president.

Tuition at Georgetown, a private school in Washington, D.C., costs about $55,000 a year.

Leading up to the vote, the editorial board of the Georgetown Voice, a student magazine, urged undergrads to approve the proposal, arguing that it would "move past memorialization to concretely to address how our school's past affects people in the present".

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