Georgetown Gives Reparations for Slavery

According to this CBS News report, Georgetown President John DeGioia has decided to give priority admissions preferences and apologize to the descendants of slaves owned by the Maryland Society of Jesus but who were sold almost two hundred years ago.

More from The New York Times . . .  

Georgetown’s president, John J. DeGioia, who will discuss the measures in a speech on Thursday afternoon, also plans to offer a formal apology, create an institute for the study of slavery and erect a public memorial to the slaves whose labor benefited the institution, including those who were sold in 1838 to help keep the university afloat.

In addition, two campus buildings will be renamed — one for an enslaved African-American man and the other for an African-American educator who belonged to a Catholic religious order.

So far, Mr. DeGioia’s plan does not include a provision for offering scholarships to descendants, a possibility that was raised by a university committee whose recommendations were released on Thursday morning. The committee, however, stopped short of calling on the university to provide such financial assistance, as well as admissions preference.

. . .

Mr. DeGioia said he planned to apologize for the wrongs of the past “within the framework of the Catholic tradition,” by offering what he described as a Mass of reconciliation in partnership with the Jesuit leadership in the United States and the Archdiocese of Washington.

. . . 

“All of these will have a substantial financial impact,” said Mr. DeGioia, who believes that Georgetown’s philanthropic community will support his initiatives. “I’m very confident that will not be a constraint.”

Karran Harper Royal, a descendant of slaves sold in 1838, said that she appreciated the decision to rename the buildings and to create a memorial. But she said the initiatives fell far short of what descendants had hoped for.

She said that Georgetown should have offered scholarships to descendants and included them on the committee that developed the recommendations, adding that she and others “felt the sting” of not being formally invited to Mr. DeGioia’s speech this afternoon.

“It has to go much farther,” said Ms. Harper Royal, who is an organizer of a group of descendants. “They’re calling us family. Well, I’m from New Orleans and when we have a gathering, family’s invited."

You can see already the call for more resource transfers (full-ride scholarships) and continuation of the dramatic rhetoric.  

The "sting" of not being formally invited, claims Ms. Royal?  You mean like like the "sting" felt from a whip slave masters used to beat their slaves?

Seriously?  

One suspects if she had been formally invited but not had her plane ride provided, she would have found a "sting" to complain about, and that if she had her plane ride but sat in economy, then she would have still felt that "sting," and if she had flown in first-class but not given a posh hotel room, the "sting" would still have been present.  

Because, you see, the sting is never supposed to go away, but instead, is meant to be ever-present and trotted out continually whenever excuses need to be made or cash and prizes demanded.  

Two hundred years ago the Maryland Society of Jesus (which is an entity distinct from Georgetown) ended its relationship with slavery.  Two hundred years from now, in 2216, we suspect that if America and Georgetown are still around, we'll still be talking about it and there will be folks demanding resource transfers and other special treatment.  

Why?

Because,  as Booker T. Washington says . . . 

We've previously covered the discussion about this issue in several posts from last year, from our analysis of how The Hoya's "Hoya Historian" got it wrong, to our coverage on the protests held to change the names of a couple buildings because the names on the buildings were traumatizing some students, which is very understandable, because we all know names on buildings are very traumatizing things which trigger people and cause them to have nervous breakdowns and feel unsafe.

As we've said before, we're not that concerned about the name changes and to be honest don't have an issue with giving the descendants of former slaves legacy admissions points.

It's not like we support the legacy admissions practice anyways since it's mainly for the rich kids and most of TGA has no relatives who went to Georgetown.  And since black students already get special affirmative action preferences when it comes to admissions anyways, it's not like anything is really changing.  Or is it?  One wonders whether the preference for descendants will be getting double-stacked with legacy points and affirmative action points, or if it will just mean a few more affirmative action points than average.

We do have advice for all the activists on this issue: if you're really principled and really concerned, you should agitate to get rid of the John Carroll statute.  

The man founded Georgetown and was the first head of the Maryland Province of the Society of Jesus which originally owned the slaves, and even had personal slaves of his own to do things like lay out his clothes and serve him dinner.  

And yet, his statue receives pride of place in the center of campus.  Unlike the two renamed buildings which never have to be entered, you cannot avoid passing the John Carroll statue each and every day.  

There's even a special scholarship program named after him and there is an annual alumni weekend called the "John Carroll Weekend" and at which President DeGioia gives out awards called "The John Carroll Awards" to honor alumni.   Let's not forget the Carroll fellows program for academically-talented students.  

We should change the names of every single one of these things and eliminate "John Carroll" from our collective memory, except as a source of shame and guilt.  

And for the mental health of our fellow Hoyas, and to ensure Ms. Royal doesn't have to feel the "sting" of seeing him whenever she arrives (as we're sure she one day will), we should remove the statue as well.  

We need to have an occupation of President DeGioia's office like we did last year and someone channeling Reagan needs to shout:  "Mr. DeGioia, tear down this statue!"  It took less than 24-hours of the sit-in to get him to change the names of the buildings, so one suspects it shouldn't take more than a few days to get him to get rid of the statue.

In the interim, we suggest a black shroud be placed over it so no one has to look at it.

In other news, The Voice reports, citing University administrator Missy Foy, that "around 60 percent of students come from the wealthiest three percent of American families."  It was in a feature story about student debt, which we suspect was in response to our coverage of how tuition increased 18% over the last four years and is increasing an additional 4% this year and is slated to increase an additional 4% each year for the next four.  

A Georgetown degree now costs $300,000.

But let's forget about all that right now.  The growing divide between the rich and the poor and the increasing difficulty of lower classes gaining access elite institutions like Georgetown is not what should concern us.  

Neither should massive amounts of student debt that burdens the poor and middle classes, but which don't affect the wealthiest three percent of American families or those on full-ride scholarships reserved for designated victim groups or illegal immigrants.  

What's really important is we get rid of things like the John Carroll statue and his name on any University buildings or programs because it is triggering, keeps Georgetown from being a safe space, and puts the mental health of all Hoyas at risk.

UPDATE: A commenter named after a dead gorilla notes that President DeGioia began his apology tour with a speech in Gaston Hall, which is named after Georgetown's first student who apparently also owned slaves.  In addition to cleansing campus of the John Carroll statue and his name on things, we're also calling for the renaming of Gaston Hall.  

We recommend the "Michael Brown Memorial Hall" instead.  

And for good measure, we should probably change the names of all buildings named after someone born prior to 1865, just to be safe, and so no one is traumatized.