A commemorative lei ceremony was held June 23, 2022 at the Patsy Takemoto Mink monument outside the Hawaiʻi State Library to mark the 50th anniversary of the landmark Title IX legislation that Mink championed. Representatives from three branches of Hawaiʻi’s state government and sponsoring agencies paid tribute to Mink’s groundbreaking legislation that has impacted millions of women since it was passed in 1972.
The University of Hawaiʻi was represented by Jennifer Rose, director of the UH Office of Institutional Equity, and UH Vice President for Administration Jan Gouveia, who presented a lei on behalf of the university.
“This event is critical for higher education because, as the speakers have indicated, Title IX is not just about athletics—it is about STEM, admissions, career and technical education, it is about transgender students having access,” said Rose. “If you think about Patsy’s biggest barrier and her impetus for becoming a legislator was because she couldn’t get into medical school. So I think the University of Hawaiʻi being the place where Patsy graduated, being one of our most distinguished alumna, is pretty significant.”
The lei ceremony honored Mink’s profound and successful efforts to bring gender equity to education. Congress renamed Title IX as the Patsy T. Mink Equal Opportunity in Education Act. It states, “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”
Title IX transformed U.S. schools and universities by prohibiting educational institutions from receiving federal funds if they discriminated on the basis of gender in admissions, recruitment, financial aid, housing and athletics.
“It is my hope that the underlying values of equity, inclusion and justice championed within the spirit and intent of Title IX will bring about long-lasting change and a culture shift toward a future at UH free from all forms of sex discrimination while ensuring and celebrating equal opportunity and access to education for all,” said UH President David Lassner.
Continuing Mink’s legacy
The program featured speakers representing the executive, judicial and legislative branches of government with First Lady Dawn Ige, Hawaiʻi Supreme Court Associate Justice Sabrina McKenna and State Sen. Rosalyn Baker.
“It is really important for the state of Hawaiʻi to recognize that Patsy Takemoto Mink, the major sponsor and co-author of Title IX is from Hawaiʻi, she is a local girl,” said McKenna, who is also a UH alumna and former student-athlete. “The first woman of color elected to Congress was from Hawaiʻi and is a University of Hawaiʻi graduate. We must not forget that.”
- Related UH News story: UH celebrates 50 years of Title IX with film screenings, panel discussions, more, March 1, 2022
Each lei presented during the formal program had some significance to Mink or Title IX. Mink’s monument was adorned with a maile lei, kukui nut lei, cigar lei, plumeria lei, among others. The lei were donated by State Rep. Della Au-Bellati and the Women’s Legislative Caucus (WLC).
Sponsoring agencies of the event included: UH System, Hawaiʻi Women Lawyers, WLC and the Zonta Club. A reception in the Hawaiʻi State Library courtyard followed the ceremony.