Posted on July 7, 2004

University Violated Civil Rights of White Male Professors

Piper Fogg, Chronicle of Higher Education, Jul. 6

Northern Arizona University violated the civil rights of 40 white male faculty members by giving raises to female and minority professors and not to them, a federal judge in Phoenix ruled last week.

The male faculty members had sued the university and the Arizona Board of Regents in 1995, claiming violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits employers from discriminating on the basis of race or sex. They contended that they had been treated unfairly because members of minority groups at the university had received one-time pay increases that averaged $3,000, and women had received increases averaging $2,400, while the white men had received no raises.

In January 2003, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit had found that a 1993 pay-equity plan developed by the university’s former president, Eugene Hughes, had not unnecessarily hampered the rights of professors who did not receive raises. But the judges concluded that a jury should decide whether the raises were higher than necessary to make up for past inequities.

The plaintiffs, on advice from their lawyer, Jess A. Lorona, chose to have a fact-finder review and rule on the matter instead of a jury.

The fact-finder, Senior Judge Robert C. Broomfield of the U.S. District Court in Phoenix, ruled that in awarding the raises, Northern Arizona had failed “to attain a balance” and “went beyond attaining a balance.” He noted that university data showed that when experience, rank, discipline, and tenure status were taken into account, male professors at the time made only $750 more per year than females, on average, and white professors only $87 more than members of minority groups. Judge Broomfield also noted that in determining raises, Mr. Hughes had failed to consider doctoral status and performance.

Edward W. Hood, one of the professors who sued, said he felt vindicated by the ruling. “It comes at a very interesting time,” he added. “NAU has very serious budget issues.”

Mr. Hood said he is still not sure whether the university made a mistake in giving the raises or whether officials knew that they were being unfair but nonetheless were trying to retain women and minorities. “If the second is true, they deserve a harsh remedy,” he said.

A. Dean Pickett, general counsel for the university, said that in 1994, after Mr. Hughes left the university, a new set of raises, totaling about $700,000, was given to white male professors and female professors. Those raises, he said, made up for any discrepancies. He also noted that the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission determined in 1995 that those raises constituted “full relief” for the alleged discriminatory practice.

The two sides will return to court on July 26 to set a date for a trial that will determine potential damages.

Comments from Readers

From: 45degreesnorth

It looks like the government, big business and lawyers decided that the discrimination against white males WILL CONTINUE until a equality of income is achieved by the creation of a white male underclass–making the average income the same as blacks and women. And by the lack of organization by white males, there is little or no resistance to the change. If we don’t wake up, get used to it.

From: Brian

This is good news. Since most professors in this country are liberal they should be as happy as clams! Let women and minorities get paid more. Lets hope this cathes on and becomes the norm. Maybe those liberal professors will see the light of truth shining through the windows of the ivory tower.

From: Tony

I am a university professor who sees blatant discrimination going on all the time. And what is worse is that it is done openly and proudly in violation of the law here in CA. And what is even worse is that the only guy other than myself that I have seen publicly criticize it is a Asian guy–many of the white guys dislike it but are too cowardly to speak up.

From what I see, it’s going to take a lot of work to get whites to snap out of the coma they are currently in. I just hope the reality of multiracial America hits people before they are too small in number to maintain a desirable society. It grows less desirable every day.

From: Dave

To: Tony

I too live in CA. Believe when I say it’s poor and middle class whites that feel the weight of afferitive action the most. I can rant and rave for a long time about how me and wife have been affected.

In order for a liberal professor to complain they must be discriminated against to the point it hurts. They must be put into a position where they would have to sell there house in order to make ends meet. The point is that it must hurt to the point where they feel inadequate. Heavy feelings of inadequacy, having to sell your house, divorce over money problems in the face of a salary cut, these type financial actions are what it will take.

Another vehicle for change for a professer is embarrassment. They love to consider themselfs above others. If they have to suffer a professional loss simply because they are white it will get them thinking. Combine that loss with a harsh anti-white tyrade and the light should start to come on.

It sounds to me as though embarrassment would be your best option, but if can be combined with inadequacy all the better. Good luck we need more professors like yourself.

From: Dryden

I’m glad some of my colleagues are standing up for themselves. The majority of humanities professors in the States do seem to be liberals, but this is not so for scientists and engineers, in my experience. Even the humanities faculty may be less liberal than they appear.

One of the most common complaint I hear from female colleagues in the States (mathematicians and economists, mostly) is that affirmative action HARMS them: their achievements are perceived to be based on their gender, not their academic status.

From: John P. M.

This article leaves me with a strong sense of ambivilance. My mixed emotions on this ic are well expressed by all of the posters above. I have a very strong dislike for the “Ivory Tower” crowd. In particular white liberals, of the “Baby Boom” generation. They have no problem tossing you to the wolves, but cry foul when it hits . For decades now, these people have pushed for this type of selective diversity discrimination. That some might have been savaged by the PC-Hydra they helped to create, is a tempting target for some mean spirited laughter on my part.

However, I am also a firm believer in giving the benefit of the doubt to anyone, even college professors. These white men’s politics, beliefs, and past actions are not mentioned here. I can not with any certainty know that they have willingly or even cravenly, supported or participated in this type discriminatory policy making. All I can do is hope they have not and wish them well.