The Wall Street Journal reports:
A federal judge in Phoenix this month said that Northern Arizona University owes $1.4 million to a group of professors who have been pursuing justice through the courts since 1995. The 40 teachers, all white men, argued that they were discriminated against when the public university gave raises to minority and female faculty members in the early 1990s but not to white males. Not only that -- the plaintiffs said in a Title VII civil-rights suit -- the salary bumps resulted in some favored faculty members earning more than white men in comparable positions.
The lawsuit and its outcome are yet another striking illustration of the perils of affirmative action, with its often contorted logic of redress and blame and its tendency to commit exactly the sort of discrimination that it was designed to prevent.
What happened here? The professors' victory, it should be said, is not a sweeping defeat of affirmative action, and the plaintiffs didn't ask for one. The university maintains that when it raised pay for certain faculty it was simply following a federal mandate to eliminate race or gender wage disparities. What got the school in trouble was not "catch up" payments per se but the way it made them.
Fuzzy math, former school president needs a lesson in statistics:
In 1993, the university's then-president, Eugene M. Hughes, assumed there had been discrimination, based partly on a study he'd commissioned. The study used salaries at other schools to help determine a theoretical median wage that should prevail at Northern Arizona. A lot of white males there fell below the median, but the significant finding for President Hughes was the one that showed minorities and women under a "predicted" par.
The initial study ignored factors such as whether people held doctorates. At any rate, the study's own figures indicated that white faculty were earning only about $87 a year more than minorities, and men were making about $751 more than women. Mr. Hughes's solution: raises of up to $3,000 for minorities and $2,400 for women. White men got nada.