Georgetown University will give admissions preference to the descendants of slaves owned by the Maryland Jesuits as part of its effort to atone for profiting from the sale of enslaved people, the AP reports. Georgetown President John DeGioia told news outlets that the university in Washington, DC, will implement the admissions preferences, noting Georgetown will need to identify and reach out to descendants of slaves and recruit them. Per the New York Times, although the subject of scholarships for slave descendants was broached by the school committee that's been working on how to deal with Georgetown's history with slavery, the committee ultimately didn't recommend financial assistance in this first wave of initiatives.
A university committee released a report Thursday that also called on its leaders to offer a formal apology for the university's participation in the slave trade. In 1838, two priests who served as president of the university orchestrated the sale of 272 people to pay off debts at the school. The slaves were sent from Maryland to plantations in Louisiana. Per the Times—which notes historians are calling this move "unprecedented"—DeGioia also will lay out plans to launch a slavery studies institute, rename two buildings after an African-American slave and an African-American educator, and put up a memorial for slaves who toiled to benefit the university, including those sold in 1838. "It goes farther than just about any institution," an MIT professor tells the Times. "It's taking steps that a lot of universities have been reluctant to take." (Harvard is also bogged down by connections to slavery.)