Settlement settles nothing

Disillusionment hangs heavy in wake of dropped lawsuit against GRU

Some Augusta folks broke the Guin­ness World Record for making the most sandwiches in one hour last Saturday, 2,988.

It’s likely that the world record for the number of simultaneous sighs was challenged here last Saturday too, as Augustans learned that a lawsuit to change the name of Georgia Regents University had been dropped.

Regent University, a private school in Virginia, had sued Georgia last September claiming the state Board of Regents had infringed on its trademark by selecting “Georgia Regents University” as the name for the consolidation of Augusta State University and the former Medical College of Georgia.

Odd as it may seem to outsiders, many in Augusta were pulling for the Virginia school to prevail. Augustans made it painfully clear to state leaders from the outset that we despise the Georgia Regents moniker. We also deeply resent the manner in which the name was proposed and approved: Even after asking the opinions of school committees, the public at large and even folks across the country in national surveys, the Board of Regents approved the GRU name out of nowhere.

This, despite the fact that the national surveys showed a tepid response to the GRU name – and a clear preference for “University of Augusta” or something close to it.

We were, in short, had.

For some unknown and likely indefensible reason, the state has clung to the GRU name like a drowning man to a life vest ever since, ignoring continued disapproval from the very community the school serves and depends upon for moral and
financial support. And, of course, while fighting off the Virginia school’s honest and principled objections.

When a settlement to the lawsuit was announced, one state official proclaimed that the end of the case “confirms” that the state had the right to use the name Georgia Regents all along.

With all due respect, we heartily disagree. All it confirms is that the fight is over. It’s quite possible that the modest private school’s financial ability to take on a deep-pocketed and dug-in state simply wasn’t enough to wage a protracted war.

There is neither glory nor redemption for Georgia in this development. All it means is that the state is not only capable of ignoring its citizens’ wishes, but also of outlasting a challenge from a private school with more limited resources than a sovereign state.

The black cloud of disillusionment in Augusta has not been dissipated by it one bit.

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