Students of Washington DC-based-based Georgetown University have voted in support of a reparations fund to repay descendants of slaves sold by the school in 1838.

A “Reconciliation Contribution” fee of $27.20 (£21) each semester would go to descendants of the 272 slaves.

The motion garnered 66% support of students, but the measure requires approval by the university.

Georgetown would be the first major college to pass such a reparations fund.

The student-led referendum was organised by the group Students for the GU272. The university’s elections commission reported that nearly 60% of students turned out to vote on Thursday.

If approved by the university board, the fund will go towards “charitable purposes” supporting the descendants of those slaves, many of whom now live in Louisiana and Maryland.

However, critics of the fund say it is an arbitrary amount that will not address any real issues, or that it should be the burden of the institution, not the students, to repay descendants of slaves.

The slavery case dated back to 1838 when the Jesuit university decided to sell the slaves to plantations in Louisiana to pay off debts, in a deal worth the equivalent of $3.3m.

Georgetown has reportedly been making amends for its past connection to slavery since 2015.

In 2017, the institution formally apologised for selling the 272 slaves, and renamed a campus building after Isaac Hawkins – the first enslaved man listed in the 1838 sale.

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