Georgetown Students May Soon Have to Pay a 'Reparations' Fee For Slaves Sold in 1838

Brittany M. Hughes | February 15, 2019
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Students at Georgetown University may soon be charged a fee to help pay “reparations” to the families of nearly 300 slaves the school sold in 1838 to pay off school debt.

The College Fix reports the referendum on raising the funds overwhelmingly passed the student governing body 20 to 4, meaning that if it’s approved by the school, students will soon be charged $27.20 per semester in fees that will go into the “Reconciliation Contributions” fund, which will then be given in some fashion to the descendants of the slaves – who, again, we sold nearly 200 years ago.

The College Fix reports:

If approved, the semesterly fee would begin to be collected in the fall of 2020 and start at $27.20 per student “in honor of the 272 people sold by Georgetown,” states the student government resolution approving the referendum, a copy of which was obtained Wednesday by The College Fix.

“The proceeds of the GU272 Reconciliation Contributions will be allocated for charitable purposes directly benefiting the descendants of the GU272 and other persons once enslaved by the Maryland Jesuits — with special consideration given to causes and proposals directly benefiting those descendants still residing in proud and underprivileged communities,” the resolution stated.

On top of issuing a formal apology back in 2017 for the school’s selling of the slaves, the College Fix adds campus officials have already “renamed two buildings on campus named after the Jesuits who were involved in the sale of the slaves and created an African American Studies Department and a working group on the establishment of an Institute for the Study of Racial Justice.”

Georgetown also agreed to “offer an admissions edge to descendants of slaves as part of a comprehensive atonement.” So far, though, only a handful of GU272 descendants have actually enrolled in and graduated from the college, while others have complained that the easier admission requirement "fails to cater to the educational needs of many descendants."

But the student government says all this is only one step in the right direction, claiming that the school also needs to pay reparations to the descendants of the former slaves as well as move forward with promises to erect monuments to the slaves themselves.

Some slave descendants have also argued that on top of apologizing, erecting monuments, creating brand new departments and giving them an admissions advantage, the school should also "invest in the education of descendants from as early on as elementary school" and help "reunite descendants whose ancestors were separated by bondage."

Again, all 180-plus years after the fact.

It’s not yet clear whether the university will actually accept the fees-for-reparations proposal. However, a statement from Georgetown officials and given to the College Fix affirmed that “The Descendant Community, the Society of Jesus, and Georgetown are engaged in a facilitated dialogue with the goal of reconciliation and transformation regarding the legacy of slavery.”

Lest you think this whole thing is ridiculous however, it’s important to note that only the wealthiest students will be forced to cough up the extra $30 per semester, as the resolution states that students who are receiving financial aid won’t be charged.