The measure passed by a vote of 2,541-1,304 late Thursday. In 1838, the university sold the slaves to pay off its debts.
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 referendum and fee were pushed for by a student group known as the GU272 Advocacy Team.
"This student referendum provides valuable insight into student perspectives and will help guide our continued engagement with students, faculty and staff, members of the Descendant community, and the Society of Jesus".
"The school wouldn't be here without them", Georgetown junior and GU272 descendant Shepard Thomas said, according to The NYT.
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"I'm definitely happy to see the response that we have, around 50 percent", he said. "We choose to do more than simply recognize the past - we resolve to change our future". Tuition for undergraduates in the 2019 fiscal year is $53,520. The vote marks the first time students have favored a slavery reparation.
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". "Regardless of what happens, we will know that Georgetown University students practiced solidarity and chose to ensure that such an historic injustice has a permanent lens for awareness, analysis and action".
While the issue of reparations has been contentiously debated among politicians since the American Civil War, the issue gained new momentum in the run up to the 2020 presidential election, with multiple Democratic candidates weighing in on the topic.
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