Georgetown University announced Thursday that the school will continue to acknowledge its ties to slavery by givingadmission preference to the descendants of the 272 slavesthe university profited from selling in 1838.
President John DeGioiawrote in a letterto students and faculty that these prospective students will get "the same consideration we give members of the Georgetown community" when they apply,and that their relationship to the university will be strongly considered.
"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," DeGioia wrote.
On top of the efforts the universitybegan in February(which included a new center focused on racial justice and the hiring of more faculty dedicated to this work),DeGioia said the university also plans to create a memorial to honor the enslaved people the school sold to pay its debts,rename two buildings named after the former president responsible for the sale,and offer a formal apology.
Crystal Walker,22,an activist and former Georgetown student,was part of the integralWorking Group of Slavery,Memory,and Reconciliation at Georgetownmade up of students,staff,and alumni that worked to address how the university can reconcile its history with slavery and improve racial justice on campus.Thegroup published a 102-page reportthat detailed the school's deep roots of slavery through archival history—including that the Jesuit priests who founded the school in 1789 relied heavily on the sale of slaves to fund the school.
Since graduating in May,Walker is mapping out her next move and hopes to join the Peace Corps.She spoke withGlamourabout the university's decision and how she hopes it will affect other universities.
GLAMOUR: How did you feel when you saw Georgetown's decision to award preferential status to descendants of slaves that apply to the school?
Crystal Walker:I felt it so deeply.The whole culmination of everything that's happened—being a part of the working group,participating in the protests,formulating support,to see it all published and come to fruition—it was a very deep and humbling feeling.But I also had the feeling of this is not the end.Because everything in this report needs to be put into action.I just hope that everything that was written in this report becomes part of Georgetown.That it's put into action in a way that will benefit the Georgetown community and also respect the lives of the 272-plus enslaved people who are the reason why Georgetown is still standing.I don't want this work to be done in vain.I want this to be a conversation that is forever had at Georgetown and these people are remembered in a way that is respectful and honors their history no matter how ugly the history may be.
GLAMOUR: Do you think the report going to bring about real change?
CW:Georgetown is dealing with this so intimately that they can't just formulate a working group,have all of these discussions on campus,go through protests,write this over 100-page report,and then not do anything.I definitely think the university is taking the situation very seriously and I think that good will come out of it.As long as there's a system of checks and balances,I think that everything in the report can definitely happen.It may not happen as quickly as I may want or some people may want,but it can definitely happen.