A positive force for change

Georgia should embrace, harness, energy behind 'Save the A'

You’ve never seen a campaign season like this.

And we’re not even talking about the political one!

Augusta’s mushrooming “Save the A” campaign – to put “Augusta” back in the name of our soon-to-be consolidated university – is popping up all over town, as well as the Internet. Bumper stickers, yard signs and more are becoming more in evidence. Petitions are being signed online and in stores.

And last Sunday, the grassroots Save the A campaign splashed its message across four full pages of The Chronicle – complete with thousands of names of area residents who support the effort.

We’ve frankly never seen anything quite like it. An entire community is standing up to the state and having its voice heard.

But perhaps the most remarkable aspect of it all is how positive their message is.

The first of the four Save the A newspaper ads, for instance, starts off by actually thanking state officials – specifically Gov. Nathan Deal, the legislature and the Board of Regents – for their commitment to the two universities being combined, Augusta State University and Georgia Health Sciences University. Millions will be invested in the combined school, which should come out exponentially stronger in the long term.

The ad then respectfully asks them to reconsider the name for the combined school – Georgia Regents University – and reminds state officials that “University of Augusta” was the overwhelming choice of Georgians and other Americans and academicians polled nationwide – a survey that school officials, themselves, commissioned.

Again using the word “please,” the campaign asks state officials not to waste taxpayer funds defending the proposed Georgia Regents name against a lawsuit from Regent University in Virginia. That school has filed suit in U.S. District Court in Augusta for trademark infringement. And it’s sure to be a money-sucker.

The fourth point made in the Save the A campaign ad is actually a pledge: that this community will rally behind the combined school, and state officials individually, if the name is changed.

The Save-the-A ad on Sunday’s Page 3B also included contact information for Gov. Deal, University System Chancellor Hank Huckaby and Board of Regents Chairman Benjamin Tarbutton III. In the spirit of the Save the A campaign, we urge you to contact each of these officials, but to do so respectfully and in the upbeat, forward-looking fashion the campaign has been waged.

We hope our friends in Atlanta will appreciate that spirit of constructiveness, increasingly rare today, but not miss the passion behind it. This community feels very strongly about this issue.

Just as important, we would implore Gov. Deal in particular to take note of the growing, powerful energy here that has been coalescing over this issue. It’s not a bad thing. It’s not a problem. It’s not a tantrum. And it’s not going away.

It’s a positive force for change, pure and simple.

Rather than shun it or ignore it or hope it goes away, Gov. Deal and his colleagues should see it for the dynamic force for progress and cohesion that it is – and decide to embrace it. Honor it. Harness it.

There is still time for Gov. Deal and the Board of Regents to come out winners in the eyes of Augusta.

They can still Save the A. And everyone will come out on top.

Topic Page: University Merger

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