Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What are the next steps for moving forward on the ideas expressed by students in the April 2019 referendum?

A: The University is launching advisory groups to move forward on projects and activities in three areas: Descendant and Community Engagement; Public History; and Academic and Research Initiatives.

The Descendant and Community Engagement advisory group will be responsible for developing an implementation plan for an initiative that will support community-based projects that will work with and support Descendant communities. This work will launch in Fall 2020.

Since 2018, the University has supported a Dialogue process that was initiated by leaders in the Descendant community. This Dialogue process, supported by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, is working to establish a framework for long-term engagement. This is an ongoing, confidential dialogue with leaders in the Descendant community and the Society of Jesus to which the University is deeply committed. At the same time, we are moving forward to implement complementary ideas that have emerged from the Georgetown community.

Q: How is a “community-based initiative” defined? What is an example of a potential community-based initiative?

A: Community-based initiatives invite the Descendant community into the process of creating and implementing projects and activities that support Descendant communities. A community-based initiative is one that partners with and benefits a broad community, such as developing a new preschool program or health care initiative, with a long-term impact.

Q: How would the community-based projects be funded?

A: They will be supported by voluntary contributions to the fund. Any member of our community can contribute—students, but also faculty, staff and alumni/ae. We will develop fundraising materials to support this initiative. The University will ensure that the fund has financial support commensurate with, or exceeding, the amount outlined in the student referendum.


Q: I want to be involved on an Advisory group. How can I get involved?

A: Advisory groups will be formed over the coming weeks, and will begin meeting before the end of the semester. Members will be engaged for their expertise and interest in the specific subject area of the group. If you would like to be considered as a member, please email slavery@georgetown.edu with a few sentences explaining your interest.

There are many other ways to get involved as well—through academic courses, research, and events.

If you are interested in following the developments and activities of the groups, please also email slavery@georgetown.edu to be added to the news distribution list.

Q: What role will students play in the Descendant and Community Engagement advisory group?

A: Students will play important roles on all three advisory groups.

Student members of the Descendant and Community Engagement advisory group will be involved in developing the plan to launch this initiative in Fall 2020, as well as in the ongoing work of the initiative.

Q: I have an idea that I want to share for this Initiative. How can I get involved?

A: Ideas for initiatives and expressions of interest or support from members of the Georgetown community can be emailed to slavery@georgetown.edu.

These will be reviewed in the coming weeks and shared with the advisory groups as appropriate.

Q: The University is not implementing a student fee. How is what the University doing different from what the students voted for?

A: As we engaged with members of our Georgetown community and with Descendants, we learned that there is broad interest in supporting this work and in providing a mechanism that would let anyone across the University participate. We want to create a common framework in which everyone can contribute to making this initiative successful. The University is committed to ensuring that the fund has resources commensurate with, or exceeding, the amount that would have been raised through the student fee.

Q: What happened after the students voted for the Referendum in April? How was the Referendum reviewed and evaluated?

A: Since the referendum was passed by students in April, Georgetown leadership has held several meetings with students involved in passing the referendum. Key alumni leaders met with students in May. Students met with members of Georgetown’s Board of Directors in June. The Board of Directors discussed the Referendum on several occasions including at its June and October meetings. Student leaders also met with representatives of the Dialogue process in October.

During this period of consultation, comments were raised about governance structures, the university’s non-profit status, sources of funding, consultations with the Descendant Community, and connections to our ongoing Dialogue process with the Descendant Community and Society of Jesus.

Q: How much money will the University be contributing?

A: Each year the University has supported projects and activities related to the Slavery, Memory, and Reconciliation initiative. In recent years, this has included undergraduate and graduate student researchers working at the Georgetown Slavery Archive and at Lauinger Library, annual student learning trips to Louisiana for courses in American Studies/History and Film and Media Studies courses, annual programming to commemorate Emancipation Day in the District of Columbia, participation in Universities Studying Slavery consortium gatherings (and hosting the USS symposium in Spring 2017), faculty research initiatives, and collaborations with Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

The University will ensure that the fund has financial support commensurate with, or exceeding, the amount outlined in the student referendum. The University will support fundraising efforts that will help to grow the initiative over time.