In your words: Mountain of mail opposes university name

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Georgia Regents University is a horrid name for Augusta’s new consolidated university.

But don’t take our word for it.

Take yours.

Since the state Board of Regents voted Aug. 7 to approve that new name for the combined Augusta State University and Georgia Health Sciences University, readers have sent us letter after letter after letter decrying the decision.

ONLY A MONTH in has the flood of feedback slowed down. We couldn’t publish them quickly enough. We even made extra room on the editorial page by holding out some syndicated columns – you know, those articles by familiar faces Charles Krauthammer, Michelle Malkin, Cal Thomas and more. Several of you said you missed them during the hubbub.

But I’m here to tell you it’s not over.

The letters keep coming in, as do the anonymous comments in The Chronicle’s Rants & Raves column.

Fact is, we can’t ever remember receiving so many letters for so long a time on such a specific subject – especially with such a resounding consensus: As of Sept. 7, we’d published 85 letters on the name change – 74 of which were wholly against the Georgia Regents name.

That’s an 87-percent thumbs down.

In this day and age, you can’t get that percentage of Americans to agree on what day it is. It’s an incredible consensus.

That may not sound like a ton of letters, but believe us: It is. I’ve been in the business 30 years, 20 years of that in the editorial pages across two states. I’ve never seen anything like this.

Besides, ask yourself: How many letters have you written in the past month? We’ve become a Twitter/Facebook society, where we vent our feelings or share our daily ups and downs with friends in small, easy bites – in the case of Twitter, a maximum of 140 characters. We’re not much of a letter-writing culture anymore.

SO, FOR PEOPLE to take up a pen or keyboard and compose 300-word (or better) screeds, well that takes commitment, passion, dedication and follow-through.

You’ve got to figure that for every 100 letter writers, there are probably hundreds if not thousands of folks who might have done the same, had they the time, confidence or the paper at
hand.

Likewise, state officials have been hearing from you. As of Aug. 31, nearly 800 messages had been conveyed to Gov. Nathan Deal’s office – and only three of them favorable to the name change. University System of Georgia officials also had logged several dozen complaints – and absolutely no attaboys.

State officials have downplayed the amount of constituent contacts, as if to say they’re not impressed with the outpouring. That’s unfortunate. From where I sit, the backlash against Georgia Regents has been intense and incessant. Perhaps our friends in Atlanta also are comparing the feedback to issues of statewide reach; all this fuss has been generated primarily from the Augusta region.

It’s nothing to sneeze at.

Nor should state officials be concerned solely with the numbers or volume of the complaints. They should pay attention to the fervor as well, and the range of concerns. It’s not just about the name, for instance. It’s also about how the name was arrived at: through a supposedly inclusive process that was to take into account the community’s opinion. That was a sham. Nobody here, outside of the GHSU president’s office, was cuckoo for GRU. And this community feels insulted to the extreme.

GOOD GRIEF, the state Board of Regents didn’t even take into account the nation’s opinion: A national survey showed that “University of Augusta” was the top choice. If GRU were a racehorse, its backers would’ve torn up their tickets. It finished in the “also ran” category.

Is “also ran” what our leaders want for our new university’s name?

It’s obvious the people don’t.

Comments (6) Add comment
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KSL
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KSL 09/09/12 - 05:33 pm
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Great points!

Great points!

Little Lamb
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Little Lamb 09/09/12 - 07:52 pm
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What can we do?

Thank you, Michael Ryan, for this informative and encouraging editorial. What can an ordinary citizen do to influence the BOR or governor?

Michael Ryan
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Michael Ryan 09/10/12 - 01:06 pm
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Sorry LL, just saw this. We

Sorry LL, just saw this. We may want to address that question in a subsequent editorial. But off the top, I'd say the Governor's office is where the action is...

Bruno
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Bruno 09/10/12 - 11:22 pm
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Good lord. You people are

Good lord. You people are still on about this? With all of the important issues going on not only locally but nationally this is the bone y'all choose to gnaw?

KSL
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KSL 09/11/12 - 02:50 pm
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I think most people are

I think most people are capable of gnawing on multiple bones.

Bruno
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Bruno 09/13/12 - 07:25 am
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Given the number of separate

Given the number of separate articles, op-ed and comments on this silly topic I would say that you are optimistic, KSL.

You could name it "Augusta's Greatest University in the World" and it would have zero impact on the academics. The focus should be on, at least in my opinion, having the best program not the most pleasing name to some.

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