Georgetown University announced Thursday that it will give preference in admissions and financial aid to the descendants of Jesuit-owned slaves in the 19th century, taking its cue from a report by a university panel that also called for school leaders to formally apologize for the university’s participation in slavery.
The Georgetown-commissioned panel — the Working Group on Slavery, Memory, and Reconciliation — was made up of faculty, students, staff and alumni who began researching the university’s role in the institution of slavery last fall, releasing its findings Thursday.
“There is a moral, as well as a practical, imperative that defines this moment — that shapes the responsibility we all share: how do we address now, in this moment, the enduring and persistent legacy of slavery?” Georgetown President John J. DeGioia said in a statement. “I believe the most appropriate ways for us to redress the participation of our predecessors in the institution of slavery is to address the manifestations of the legacy of slavery in our time.”
The university will discuss the report during a campus event at 4 p.m. Thursday, which will also be live streamed online.
Georgetown came under fire in the fall when students organized en masse to call for the renaming of two campus buildings named after former slaveowners.
Mulledy Hall was named after former President Thomas Mulledy, who sold hundreds of slaves to reduce Georgetown’s debts, and McSherry Hall paid tribute to President William McSherry, who not only advised on the sale of slaves, but sold them as well. The two buildings were temporarily renamed “Freedom Hall” and “Remembrance Hall.”