HONOLULU – (Hawaii News Now) The University of Hawaii at Manoa Letterwinners Club has sent a letter to Athletics Dircetor Ben Jay, asking that he hold off on changing the nicknames of the men's athletic teams to Warriors.
Jay said in February that on July 1, 2013, the name change will come into effect.
The Club stated in its letter that, after a period of "very difficult times", it feels Jay's priority should be to "begin the healing process and bring everyone back together".
State Representative and Letterwinners Club President K. Mark Takai told Hawaii News Now "Bringing up changes to nicknames is divisive, and it challenges the attempt to bring everyone together."
Takai said that previous attempts to have a dialogue with Jay on the topic haven't happened. Jay is on the mainland and did not offer comment, but in the past has been steadfast in his decision to go through with the standardization.
Jay has met with another opponent to the name change, Stephen Chinen. Chinen is organizing a rally on Friday at Bachman Hall "Rally 4 Rainbows". He believes the name for all the men's teams should be Rainbow Warriors. Jay wrote an email to Chinen, addressing the topic:
Mahalo for your e-mail.
As my assistant Jeannie Lee previously informed you, I am currently attending meetings on the mainland and will not be available for the rally. However, I'm glad we were able to meet in order to share views and opinions.
When the decision was made in 2000 to change the nickname of the football, men's volleyball, golf, and tennis teams to Warriors, I'm sure there were individuals that were against the decision because of their strong affinity for Rainbows.
Now, 13 years later, the Warrior nickname has been embraced by many and I am not aware of any past organized campaigns to change the nicknames of these four men's teams back to either Rainbow Warriors or Rainbows.
After arriving at UH, it soon became clear that a decision had to be made to unite the remaining three men's teams (men's basketball, baseball, and swimming & diving) with the other four under a common nickname in order to end a branding situation that has caused confusion both locally and nationally and hampered marketing, licensing, and merchandising initiatives.
Based on numerous conversations with UH fans, I did not hear a consensus on what the men's nickname should be but individuals were clearly in agreement that a decision had to be made and was long overdue. One of the key factors in the decision was that Warriors is the nickname of the majority of our men's teams, including the one with the largest fan following (football).
We are changing the nickname of three of our seven men's programs and not "all" of them. As I mentioned, four have been Warriors since 2000. In essence, we are not "making" a decision to adopt the Warrior nickname for our men's sports, we are basically "finishing" the decision made 13 years ago, so that our brand identity is clear and unified.
Your efforts have not gone unnoticed and we appreciate the feedback and passion that has been expressed. We've also received feedback from many who are in support of the Warriors and Rainbow Wahine nicknames. We know we will not be able to please everyone but we are moving forward.
Please understand that we are not removing Rainbow entirely, since our women's team's will remain Rainbow Wahine and the "Let's Go Bows" cheer will always be a part of the cheerleaders and fans' repertoire. Also, there are plans to continue to honor the Rainbow tradition, including a "Retro Night" during the upcoming football season and a line of retro merchandise that is currently being sold. Other initiatives will also be planned.
Mahalo for your support of our men's and women's student-athletes and I hope to see you at many UH sporting events.
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