Georgetown University students have voted overwhelmingly in favor of a tuition fee to benefit descendants of slaves.
In alignment with a referendum presented in February, nearly 58 percent of the student body recently voted in support of a $27.20 per student fee that would benefit descendants of the 272 slaves sold by the school in the 19th century to pay off its debts.
The referendum, conceived in the fall 2018 semester, had the support of students who thought the university had not made enough tangible efforts to reconcile its past dealings in American slavery.
GU President John DeGioia, addressing the vote and the university’s broader “Slavery, Memory, and Reconciliation” initiative, said the vote result “raises complex issues that we are prepared to grapple with and embrace.”
“Our students are bringing attention to deeply-held convictions that we take very seriously,” DeGioia said in a statement issued Friday. “With this strong indication from our students, I will engage key leaders in our Georgetown, Descendant and Jesuit communities and our faculty, board and student leadership to chart a path forward.”