Georgetown University, a Jesuit Catholic higher education institution located in Washington, D.C., is yet another Catholic university embroiled in controversy. Student activists take issue with the university’s past, specifically when the university had owned slaves, and sold them for a profit in 1838. In 2017, the university officially apologized for the act, but activists demanded reparations in response.
Now, Georgetown University’s student government is considering the implementation of a new student fee to be paid out to descendants of the university’s sold slaves. In other words, slave reparations could be mandatory at Georgetown University, if students approve the referendum issued by the student government.
The specifics of the potential slave reparations fee are that it will be collected beginning in the fall 2020 semester and will start at the amount of $27.20 to represent the 272 slaves which were sold by the university. The “GU272 Reconciliation Contributions,” which is the name of the proposed fee, is supposed to directly benefit the slaves’ descendants. But, students who are receiving financial aid will not be forced to pay the proposed fee.
The university issued a statement about the proposal, part of which reads as follows:
“We appreciate the engagement and support of students and GUSA (i.e. the student government at Georgetown) and will continue to consult with students and other members of the university community as we work in partnership with Descendants on a process that recognizes the terrible legacy of slavery and promotes racial justice in southern Louisiana, southern Maryland and throughout the nation.”