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Former UH volleyball standout Marilyn Moniz reflects on Title IX on its 50th anniversary

FILE - The University of Hawai'i women's volleyball team in 2019.
Courtesy University of Hawaiʻi athletics
FILE - The University of Hawai'i women's volleyball team in 2019.

June 23 marks the 50th anniversary of Title IX, the 1972 federal law that prohibits federally funded educational institutions from discrimination based on gender.

The American Civil Liberties Union credits Hawaiʻi lawmaker Patsy Mink as the “major author and sponsor of Title IX.”

Marilyn Moniz reflects on Title IX
Morning Edition - June 23, 2022

One area to feel the immediate impacts of the change in the law was women’s sports. It was a day Marilyn Moniz remembers well.

She spent nearly three decades as associate athletics director at the University of Hawaiʻi. But 50 years ago she was sitting in a gym with her teammates on the Kaimuki High School girls volleyball team.

"In comes walking the University of Hawaiʻi’s very first volleyball coach Alan Kang to put together a volleyball team for the University of Hawaiʻi. First time. Along with a track program. That was the beginning of the Rainbow Wahine athletic program, which by no coincidence is also celebrating its 50th year of providing opportunities for women to play sports and represent the University of Hawaiʻi," Moniz told HPR. "And I got to be one of them.”

She went on to become a volleyball standout for the Rainbow Wahine team from 1972 to 1976. Moniz fondly recalled the five decades of opportunities that followed the enactment of Title IX.

"Access to the athletic program really is the most important thing. If you don't have access or the opportunity to play your sport, you don't have anything. You can't get scholarships, you can't travel, you can't vie for a championship," she said. "I was really fortunate to be there at the right place and the right time and people fighting for our opportunity to play."

Title IX is often linked with providing equal opportunities for women’s sports, but the law’s impact is much broader.

On its website today, the U.S. Department of Education notes that any institution receiving federal funds must “operate its education program or activity in a nondiscriminatory manner free of discrimination based on sex—including sexual orientation and gender identity.”

Moniz also attended UH Richardson School of Law and worked as a deputy prosecuting attorney on Maui.

"We have to remember that the medical school and the law school when they started, Title IX was already in effect. And so they didn't have to labor to correct inequities for women at the law school. They could just develop the law school and the medical school, keeping that in mind," Moniz said. "I'm sure the law school's probably 50-50 and the medical school's probably close to that these days. All those efforts started 50 years ago."

The 50th anniversary of Title IX is Thursday, June 23. This interview aired on The Conversation on June 20, 2022. The Conversation airs weekdays at 11 a.m. on HPR-1.

Catherine Cruz is the host of The Conversation. Originally from Guam, she spent more than 30 years at KITV, covering beats from government to education. Contact her at ccruz@hawaiipublicradio.org.
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