Georgetown looks to atone for legacy of slavery with admissions preference
- Officials at Georgetown University have apologized for its role in the trafficking of slaves, which led to the early funding used in establishing the institution.
- The school will look to contact more than 10,000 descendants of the 272 slaves sold for the seed money which helped in founding the institution and offer those family members preferential admission.
- Georgetown officials also announced plans to create a research institute and a public memorial to acknowledge the role slaves and slavery played in its creation.
Despite the fact that many higher ed observers would say that Georgetown's Center for Education and the Workforce has been one of the most prolific research entities in the country at identifying cross sections of racial inequality in education and industry, the institution has recently come under fire for its founders' role in slave trafficking. The firestorm of negative attention over the finding likely served as a large catalyst for this most recent announcement.
But the announcement raises a number of questions about the burden such an undertaking will place on the institution — and since many other institutions across the country share similar legacies, many around the country will be paying close attention to the answers. At what point will other descendants of slaves, outside of the lineage of the 272 black people sold in benefit of the university, say they are entitled to preferential treatment on the grounds of poor record keeping or misfiled names? Will the college furnish the costs necessary to prove lineage? Will students receive scholarships or just preferential admissions consideration? Not only that, but as traditional models of affirmative action continue to come under fire, will this new policy draw even more scrutiny from activist groups?
What was intended as a measure of good faith to students of color across the country could turn into one that requires more human and financial resources than the institution could have anticipated at the onset.