Georgetown University students are voting Thursday on a proposed student fee that would fund reparations for descendants of slaves once sold by the school. If it is passed and implemented by Georgetown, it would be the first reparations policy at any major institution in America.
The referendum would add a fee of $27.20 to be paid by every Georgetown undergraduate once a semester. A new board of trustees would allocate those funds to the descendants of the "GU272" — the 272 slaves Georgetown sold in 1838 to boost the university's finances. There are an estimated 4,000 living descendants of those enslaved people.
Students for GU272, a student group supporting the vote, calls it "an unprecedented opportunity for us to come together and take action and responsibility as a Georgetown community." Other elite universities — including Harvard and Yale — have confronted their historic ties to slavery, but never before has there been a student-led fund for reparations. The vote is online and ends at 11:59 p.m. on Thursday.