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Breaking Barriers

When Kevin entered the University of Virginia in the fall of 1967, there were 30 Gentile fraternities and 3 Jewish fraternities, and the College at the University of Virginia was all male. Kevin spearheaded efforts to revolutionize things around campus.

When Kevin entered the University of Virginia in the fall of 1967, there were 30 Gentile fraternities and 3 Jewish fraternities. An unwritten “gentlemen’s agreement” separating the fraternities had lasted for decades, but fraternity leaders agreed it was time to eliminate the barriers.  Kevin was one of three non-Jewish students to join Phi Epsilon Pi, which previously had been all Jewish.  He became president of the 20-member pledge class and remained active with the fraternity through his four years of college and three years of law school.
The College at the University of Virginia was all male.  Kevin led a student effort to open the college to women students.  In his third year, he was appointed as the only undergraduate on a University committee evaluating co-education of the college.  The committee wrote a report which called for a quota system for ten years, with consideration as to equal admission after that time.  Kevin wrote a one-person minority report which called for the immediate equal admission of women.  The Student Council endorsed the minority report, which was sent to the Board of Visitors with the majority report.  Compromise ensued, which called for a two-year transitional program followed by full equal admission for women.
Kevin’s running mate for College Representative on Student Council was the first African-American elected from the College to the Student Council at the University of Virginia.  While on Student Council, Kevin developed a student recruiting program to encourage African-Americans to apply to the University.  Kevin served as Student Council Vice-President with the first African-American Student Council President.  Kevin led a reform movement to have the Student Council President elected by the student body, rather than by the Council.  He then ran and was elected as the first popularly-elected Student Council President at the University of Virginia.


In 1969, the University of Virginia was under pressure to open its admission to its undergraduate schools, especially the College of Arts and Sciences, to women. With hindsight, it would seem incredible that a state university would even face such a question, but back then, the State of Virginia had a tradition of running separate women’s colleges. I was appointed as the only undergraduate member of the University’s committee which was considering this issue. The committee was run by the Provost and consisted of faculty, administrators, one graduate student, and myself. The committee agreed to recommend a ten-year quota system on the admission of women and to revisit the issue of equal admission at some point during those ten years. This was all happening as I was entering my third year (Junior year) in the college. I had been selected for this committee because I was a College Representative to the Student Council, and I had been active in supporting co-education.
I decided that I could not support the Majority Report. Instead of simply voting no, I submitted a Minority Report. This became news, and it was endorsed by the Student Council. The Minority Report was also introduced during litigation where four plaintiffs sought equal admission for women to the college. Ultimately, a compromise was achieved, and a two-year transition plan was put into place with limited admission of women in the fall of 1970 and the fall of 1971, and full equal admission of women thereafter. If you take a look at the second to the last paragraph of the Minority Report, I acknowledged that the University might need two years to make the accommodations necessary to equally admit women. I was pleased to see that this idea was incorporated into the final settlement which was approved by the Board of Visitors.

I have included this Minority Report on the website because it reflects my willingness to sometimes stand alone in challenging the “establishment” as to a major issue. Click here to view the full report. 

- Kevin L. Mannix
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