IT'S OFFICIAL: Georgetown students approve mandatory reparations fee (UPDATED)
Georgetown University students voted Thursday in support of establishing a mandatory fee for undergraduate students to pay to descendants of slaves.
According to the Georgetown Election Commission, 66.08 percent of students who voted supported the measure while 33.92 percent of students who voted did not support the measure.
The results of the referendum are as follows: 66.08% for yes (2541 votes), 33.92% for no (1304 votes). This means that the referendum passes.
— GUSA Elections (@GUSAElections) April 12, 2019
The referendum, known as GU272, requires undergraduate students to fork up to $27.20 per semester, reported WRC-TV in Washington, D.C. Funds collected from the fee will go toward descendants of 272 slaves that Georgetown sold in 1838. The referendum comes as a number of 2020 Democrat presidential candidates now openly support reparations, as the Wall Street Journal highlighted Thursday.
"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, such as in Maringouin," the referendum says.
The referendum notes that descendants of many of the slaves whom Georgetown sold in 1838 to avoid bankruptcy still reside in poorer communities in southern Louisiana. The document also claims that the semester fee will rise in accordance with inflation. Now that the resolution has passed, it will be considered by the school's Board of Trustees for final approval.
"The students will show what they care about and that they want to act in reparative justice," Georgetown student Maya Moretta, who helped advocate for the resolution, told WRC-TV. "If you have a large group of the student body who want to provide reconciliation, then I think the Board of Trustees will listen."
After the revelation of Georgetown's 1838 slave sale, the school announced that it would grant an advantage in admissions to descendants of these slaves, as well as rename a memorial and two campus buildings.
"Student referendums help to express important student perspectives but do not create university policy and are not binding on the university," Georgetown University spokesman Matt Hill told WRC-TV. "The university will carefully review the results of the referendum, and regardless of the outcome, will remain committed to engaging with students, Descendants, and the broader Georgetown community and addressing its historical relationship to slavery."
Campus Reform reached out to the Georgetown College Republicans and Democrats for comment but did not hear back in time for publication.
"I'm cautiously optimistic," Moretta told WRC-TV regarding the referendum. "The Georgetown student body can be grossly apathetic and we have to beat down that apathy."
But others, like Georgetown student Hunter Estes, see it differently. In an op-ed for the Georgetown Review, Estes outlined the reasons he is personally opposed to the referendum. Among the reasons Estes gives are that there is "no clear plan for how the money will be spent or allocated" and that "students should not [bear] the moral weight of the University’s failures."
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