Keeping the Rainbow alive: UH fan satisfied with AD’s decision

Steve Chinen
Steve Chinen

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The decision to drop the University of Hawaii Rainbows nickname caused a stir in Manoa and divided the sports community.

But one UH fan would not go down without a fight.

There was no rainbow over Helemano Elementary School Tuesday morning.

Instead, the sun was out in Whitmore Village, shining bright on school counselor Steve Chinen.

“Many, many people have called to give their support. Go ‘bows! Yeah, look at that yeah,” Chinen said.

Neighbors driving by celebrated with Chinen, who for months led a personal crusade to keep the Rainbow nickname alive in Manoa.

“That’s all I was doing. Just keeping it up there for people to discuss and let people know that it is not a done deal. With people power, we can influence change,” Chinen said.

Chinen grabbed the attention of the media and soon his voice grew stronger and louder — and he was no longer alone.

“Students, Joe Moore, of course you, your article, the letter winners club,” Chinen said.

Chinen wrote letters to UH Athletics Director Ben Jay, UH President M.R.C. Greenwood, UH Chancellor Tom Apple and the Board of Regents. He organized a petition and soon lawmakers and former UH athletes were on board. His passion was contagious.

“It ain’t over yet because it’s in our hearts. He couldn’t understand that because only one month on the job when he decided to change the name,” Chinen said.

Then on May 3, he organized a Rainbow rally on the UH Manoa campus. Several dozen people attended.

“The purpose of it wasn’t to really protest or boo him or anything like that — it was to inform him of why Rainbows mean so much,” Chinen said.

The message was received.

Chinen says the fight was worth every ounce of his energy.

“We’re so grateful that he did begin to listen and all the other people were coercing him to listen, encouraging him to listen and this is the end result. So terrific people power,” Chinen said.

“Just by changing his mind again, he and everyone else that made the decision, you’ve healed the community and brought the community together,” Chinen said.

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