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Students at US university approve fund to benefit slave descendants

AFP  |  Washington 

Students at University have approved a fund that would benefit the descendants of slaves sold by the elite Jesuit school in the 1800s.

Creation of the reparations fund was approved in a student referendum and the results were announced late Thursday.

The University Student Association (GUSA) said 2,541 students voted in favour of the measure while 1,304 opposed it.

It would levy a USD 27.20 fee on students each semester to create a fund for the descendants of 272 slaves sold by the university's Jesuit founders in 1838 to pay off debt.

The fund would be the first of its kind in the country. It would be administered by a board made up of students and descendants of the slaves to provide money for the of descendants and other charitable purposes.

The results are not binding on the university, which was founded by Jesuits in 1789 and is located in the neighbourhood of

Todd Olson, the school's vice for student affairs, said the university "values the engagement of our students."

"Our students are contributing to an important national conversation and we share their commitment to addressing Georgetown's history with slavery," Olson said in a statement.

"We understand that the goals of the student referendum are to honor the 272 enslaved individuals sold by the Maryland Jesuits in 1838," he said.

"There are many approaches that enable our community to respond to the legacies of slavery," Olson said.

"This student referendum provides valuable insight into student perspectives and will help guide our continued engagement with students, faculty and staff, members of the descendant community, and the Society of Jesus," he added.

The Georgetown referendum comes as Democratic candidates for debate whether the should provide compensation to the descendants of African-American slaves.

Barack Obama, America's first black president, and 2016 Democratic nominee did not support compensation for the descendants of slaves.

But several 2020 Democratic hopefuls, including Senator and Julian Castro, the former of San Antonio, have come out strongly in favor of reparations.

has an undergraduate enrollment of more than 7,000. Tuition for undergraduates in the 2019 fiscal year is USD 53,520.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Fri, April 12 2019. 22:00 IST