Georgetown University President John J. DeGioia on Tuesday updated the university community on Georgetown’s work regarding Slavery, Memory, and Reconciliation. In his statement, DeGioia announced plans for a new philanthropically supported fund that will back community-based projects in areas home to Descendants of the children, women, and men who were enslaved on Maryland Jesuit plantations in the 18th and 19th centuries.
The new initiative, DeGioia wrote, “embrace[s] the spirit” of the non-binding April Student Referendum, in which Georgetown students voted to enact a new student fee that would establish a fund to support Descendants. The university will not levy the new student fee; instead, the university will offer “opportunities for every member of our community to contribute,” and “will ensure that the initiative has resources commensurate with, or exceeding, the amount that would have been raised annually through the student fee proposed in the Referendum.”
Work on the community-based projects in Descendant communities “will be grounded in our academic mission of education, research, and service; will provide opportunities for student leadership; and will be guided by extensive consultation and engagement with Descendants,” DeGioia wrote. Projects would be funded beginning in the fall of the 2020-21 academic year.
In addition, the university will establish three new advisory groups—composed of students, faculty, staff, alumni, and Descendants—on the topics of Descendant and community engagement, academic and research initiatives, and public history. “All of these steps,” wrote DeGioia, “will be taken with the deepest respect and consideration of Descendant perspectives.”