In the United States, if a party is found guilty of a criminal act or civil wrongdoing, that particular party is punished. For criminal acts, either jail time or a fine, or both. For civil cases, monetary damages, declaratory judgments, inter alia.
Georgetown University’s newly approved referendum does the opposite. It sanctions the innocent and leaves the guilty punishment free. None of these students, nor their parents, were involved in the wrongdoing the bill seeks to rectify.
Reparations have been a popular topic lately. Most of the Democratic Candidates have stated that they would sign a bill that makes cash payments to the descendants of slaves. Beside the fact that slavery reparations are illogical, slave ownership was not widespread in the United States before it was abolished. Additionally, the vast majority of people living here today are descendants from post-Civil War immigrants.
Regardless of your opinion about slavery reparations, Georgetown’s bill is nothing more than a foolish virtue signal for millennial SJW’s that allocates the blame on the blameless. It is a feel-good move that does nothing to hold the perpetrators of a detestable act responsible for it. In fact, Georgetown University gets away scot free. Most importantly, the referendum is not even binding on the university. It can accept or reject it.
This article is not meant to down play what Georgetown did 200 years ago. Georgetown sold 272 humans into slavery. Georgetown still exists because of this transaction.
If you, for the sake of argument, accept that Georgetown should pay reparations to the descendants of those Georgetown sold into slavery, this proposal doesn’t accomplish that at all.
Georgetown’s proposal, which students voted on in a referendum last week, proposes to add a mandated fee of $27.20 a semester onto a student’s tuition bill. The proposal passed by an almost two-to-one margin and is no doubt symbolic as Georgetown sold 272 people into slavery. While the cost of $27.20 per semester is not prohibitive, college tuition is already expensive enough (far surpassing wages, all other goods and services, and vastly outpacing inflation).
The price tag isn’t the issue, the problem is that Georgetown takes none of the culpability or responsibility. The responsibility is foisted onto students, innocent parties.
If this bill was truly about making things right on Georgetown’s part, Georgetown would bear the cost. Raising tuition on students who bear no guilt is morally wrong and it doesn’t really show remorse on Georgetown’s part.
The students who advocated, and ultimately passed the bill, believe that they are doing something good. This could be true. However, for it to be true, it would have to assumed that the descendants of these slaves—200 years later—are still harmed from the sale of their ancestors in a way that monetary damages could make them whole.
Slavery was a terrible thing. It never should have happened, but no one can change that it did. If Georgetown’s administration is so bent on making things right, the money should come out of Georgetown’s pocket alone. The cost should not be passed onto students’ tuition bills.
The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.