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Georgetown to offer slave descendants preferential admission status

Healy Hall, the flagship building of Georgetown University’s main campus in Washington, DC, is seen on September 30, 2011. (Credit: MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP/Getty Images)

Healy Hall, the flagship building of Georgetown University’s main campus in Washington, DC, is seen on September 30, 2011. (Credit: MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON — In an effort to acknowledge its ties to slavery, Georgetown University will offer the descendants of nearly 300 slaves preferential treatment in its admissions process.

In 1838, the school sold 272 slaves who were working on plantations in southern Maryland to pay down its debts.

Now, the school said it will give the descendants of those slaves “the same consideration we give members of the Georgetown community” when they apply.

That means those descendants get the same preference descendants of alumni receive.

“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,” Georgetown President John DeGioia wrote in a letter to students and faculty Thursday.

Last September, DeGioia created a 16-member Working Group of Slavery, Memory, and Reconciliation consisting of students, staff and alumni to make recommendations on how the school can amend its historical ties to slavery.

Along with the admissions treatment, the school will create a memorial to honor the 272 enslaved people and also rename two buildings that were named after the presidents who facilitated the 1838 sale.