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Vet Defends The ‘Rainbows’ Name

Stephen Chinen: it’s all about the Rainbows | Nathalie Walker photo

It was in 2007 when I first wrote about Stephen Chinen and his campaign to get the colors of the rainbow in the University of Hawaii athletics logo.

The Mililani native was an Army reservist stationed in Iraq at the time, and it amazed me that he cared enough about the subject to write me a long email message and send me a colorful rainbow logo drawing that his 9-year-old daughter Nikki had conjured up.

Well, Nikki is now 15 and a sophomore at Mililani High School, and her dad still is chasing rainbows, although now it’s about the name.

“She’s at the age when sometimes I embarrass her,” he says, laughing, “but she did email her friends about it.”

Chinen’s current battle is with UH athletic director Ben Jay about the new AD’s unilateral decision to remove the term “Rainbow” from men’s athletic teams’ nicknames at UH. Jay wants consistency in all sports, and says starting July 1 the nickname going forward will be “Warriors” only.

Chinen insists the teams should be referred to as “Rainbow Warriors.”

“Rainbows have been an endearing tradition for UH athletics for 90 years, since 1923,” he writes in his online petition to Jay. “Rainbows are not only revered for their physical beauty, but their spiritual energy as well. In our island state, people of different colors and cultures (come together). The people of Hawaii appreciate rainbows every single day. Use the strength of the rainbow instead of hiding it. Rainbows can be marketed successfully worldwide.”

Chinen has taken his one-man campaign to the news media and says he has the support of “thousands.” He even has met with Jay on the subject. “We met for a half-hour on April 2, and I appreciate that, (but) he told me he won’t change his mind,” Chinen says.

So Chinen hopes the power of people will win Jay over. The Mililani school counselor has organized what he is calling a “Rally 4 Rainbows” Friday, May 3, from 5 to 6:30 p.m. in front of UH’s Bachman Hall on the corner of University and Dole.

“We have to educate him on the power of rainbows,” Chinen says. “Bring your voices, your signs and your energy,” he writes in his flier. He says there will be music and speakers, and he hopes lots of people.

“I know there are thousands of people who believe in the name Rainbows,” he says. “That doesn’t mean they’ll all come to the rally, but I want to make it as attractive as possible. I’m hoping for a huge turnout, and along with our online petition, it will mean it can’t be ignored. I hope Mr. Jay (Chinen always refers to his adversary in respectful terms) has no choice but to change his mind.”

Chinen believes this rally, what he calls a “Rainbow Showdown,” is ultimately the Rainbows’ last stand.

“If it’s not a good enough turnout, then regretfully I would step aside,” he says.

But Chinen will go down fighting – and he will do so respectfully.

“I wrote Mr. Jay a letter after our meeting,” he says. “I told him I appreciate his definition of leadership and that he doesn’t want to be appear wishy-washy.

But a good leader knows that he/she is not correct 100 percent of the time. A good leader recognizes that when they are wrong, they should change the decision.”

Stephen Chinen is hoping you agree. He’s asking all Rainbow fans to show up May 3. The battle over the Rainbows may not be over yet.