THE ISSUE:

Georgetown to give slave descendants priority for admission

WASHINGTON (AP) — Georgetown University will give preference in admissions to the descendants of slaves owned by the Maryland Jesuits as part of its effort to atone for profiting from the sale of enslaved people, the president of the prominent Jesuit university in Washington announced Thursday.

The announcement from President John DeGioia came as Georgetown released a report calling on its leaders to offer a formal apology for the university's participation in the slave trade.

In 1838, two priests who served as president of the university orchestrated the sale of 272 men, women and children for $115,000, or roughly $3.3 million in today's dollars, to pay off debts at the school.

The transaction was one of the most thoroughly documented large sales of enslaved people in history, and the names of many of the people sold are included in bills of sale, a transport manifest and other documents. Genealogical research conducted by Georgetown and by other organizations, including The New York Times, has identified many living descendants of the slaves.

The university will reach out to those descendants and recruit them to the university, and they will have the same advantage in admissions that's given to people whose parents or grandparents attended Georgetown, DeGioia said

Student Reactions

Alexis McKenzie, sophomore communication major

“I feel like the heart behind it is like, to be inclusive, but I don’t think that that’s a good way of carrying that out for the sake of having a equal playing field," McKenzie said. "I don’t really feel like it’s fair to all students.”


Jordan Price, freshman undecided major:

“That's a great thing," Price said. "The ancestors that were slaves, all the suffering they went through, now that work and that oppression is giving their descendants an opportunity to better themselves and not have to go through that."


Taylor Bauer, junior history and political science major

“I think the more opportunities and the more scholarships that we can give to people that have been affected by some of America’s mistakes in the past, the better. Specifically in regards towards like African American slaves," Bauer said. "I would say that my initial reaction is that that’s a good thing. I feel like a lot of people might get upset by it because it might take away from opportunities from white people, but I don’t really see it that way because I think the more opportunities that they can give to people from different diverse groups, the better."


Matthew Taylor, freshman computer science major

“I mean, I think it’s a good idea to repay the debt we owe them because of all those years of slavery," Taylor said. "I think more towns should actually do that because I mean, we damaged that community enough that we should repay back our debts."