Georgetown students to vote on slavery reparations fund

Students on Georgetown University's campus

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

Georgetown University students are considering a fee benefiting the descendants of enslaved people sold to pay off the school's debts, an effort that would create one of the first reparations funds at a major U.S. institution.

Georgetown University may become the first USA school to charge a fee to pay reparations to descendants of former slaves.

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 nearly 60 per cent of students turned out to vote on Thursday. University administrator Todd Olson didn't commit to the fund's establishment in a statement on Friday, but said the non-binding vote provided "valuable insight into student perspectives".

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

The Georgetown referendum comes as Democratic candidates for president debate whether the United States should provide compensation to the descendants of African-American slaves. A bill sponsored by Democratic Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas that would create a commission to consider reparations has gained widespread backing among the 2020 hopefuls, who have expressed varying degrees of support for reparations.

In 1838, two priests who served as presidents of Georgetown coordinated the sale of the 272 men, women and children enslaved by Maryland Jesuits.

Students at Georgetown University passed a referendum this week that seeks to address the fact that the institution once owned slaves.

Tuition at Georgetown, a private school in Washington, D.C., costs about $55,000 a year. The amount was chosen to represent the 272 slaves that Georgetown University sold in 1838.

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