Georgetown is trying to atone for its slave connections.
Georgetown’s president, John J. DeGioia, will announce the measures Thursday afternoon, and he also also plans to offer a formal apology, create an institute for the study of slavery and erect a public memorial to the slaves whose labor benefited the institution, including those who were sold in 1838 to help keep the university afloat, according to the New York Times.
In addition, two campus buildings will be renamed — one for an enslaved African-American man and the other for an African-American educator who belonged to a Catholic religious order.
So far, Mr. DeGioia’s plan does not include a provision for offering scholarships to descendants, a possibility that was raised by a university committee whose recommendations were released on Thursday morning. The committee, however, stopped short of calling on the university to provide such financial assistance, as well as admissions preference.
Mr. DeGioa’s decision to offer an advantage in admissions to descendants, similar to that offered to the children and grandchildren of alumni, may be unprecedented.
More than a dozen universities — including Brown, Harvard and theUniversity of Virginia — have publicly recognized their ties to slavery and the slave trade. Craig Steven Wilder, a historian at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who has studied universities and slavery, said he knew of none that had offered preferential status in admissions to the descendants of slaves.
He cautioned, however, that the significance of such a gesture would rest heavily on the degree to which Georgetown invested in outreach to descendants, including identifying them, making sure they are aware of the benefit’s existence and actively recruiting them to the university.
Well this should be an interesting day at Georgetown University.