'Our students are contributing to an important national conversation...'
The money collected from the new student fee will go towards the creation of a fund that will be donated to schools and health care programs in Louisiana, where 4,000 known descendants of the 272 Georgetown slaves now reside.
More than 2,500 undergraduate students at the Washington D.C. campus voted in favor on Thursday for the "Reconciliation Contribution" fee.
The fund would be the first of its kind in the country. Those students say the $27.20 fee would generate over $400,000 a year and would "be allocated for charitable purposes directly benefiting the descendants of the GU272 and other persons once enslaved by the Maryland Jesuits". The referendum isn't binding, however, and would still need to get the OK from the university's board of trustees.
The Georgetown referendum comes as Democratic candidates for president debate whether the United States should provide compensation to the descendants of African-American slaves.
The slavery case dated back to 1838 when the Jesuit university made a decision to sell the slaves to plantations in Louisiana to pay off debts, in a deal worth the equivalent of $3.3m.
Barack Obama, America's first black president, and 2016 Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton did not support compensation for the descendants of slaves.
"The students remembered, recognized, and re-ignited awareness about descendants who literally made it possible for today's Georgetown University", Lee Baker, a GU272 descendant, told The Hoya.