Faith Wins: Southern Illinois U. Edwardsville Ordered to Pay Christian Student $80K for Silencing Her Views

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Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (SIUE) has been ordered to pay a Christian student $80,000 for silencing her conservative views as part of a lawsuit settlement. Additionally, three professors must undergo First Amendment training as a result of the lawsuit brought by Alliance Defending Freedom.

In her lawsuit, the student claimed that SIUE had censored her speech and discriminated against her after other students complained about her conservative and pro-life social media posts, according to a report by Fox News.

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Last year, SIUE sent three “no-contact orders” to conservative student Maggie DeJong that prevented her from having direct or indirect communication with three students who complained about her political views, the report added.

The settlement — won by the conservative Christian legal advocacy group, Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) — mandates that three SIUE professors take free speech-related training, and that school officials pay $80,000 to DeJong.

The settlement also reportedly demands that SIUE officials revise their student handbook and policies to “ensure students with varying political, religious and ideological views are welcome in the art therapy program.”

DeJong previously told Fox & Friends First that she had frequently participated in class discussions on “contentious” topics, such as race relations, religion, the Chinese coronavirus, and censorship.

But before finishing up with her three-year graduate program, the conservative student received the no-contact order after her classmates had taken offense to her social media posts regarding abortion and defunding the police.

ADF Senior Counsel Tyson Langhoffer told Fox News that DeJong had offended her classmates when she defended Kyle Rittenhouse and denounced critical race theory, which led to the university prohibiting her from fully participating in class discussions.

The legal group added that the university has asked DeJong’s peers to report her for “harmful rhetoric” and issued the orders without first allowing the conservative student to defend herself.

A SIUE spokesperson directed Fox News to a statement from Chancellor James T. Minor, who insisted that the university is “unequivocally committed to protecting First Amendment rights and does not have policies that restrict free speech nor support censorship.”

“For decades, universities have embraced the challenge of vigorously protecting free speech while at the same time creating a safe learning environment for the expression of diverse views. Protecting these two principles can create tensions,” Minor said.

ADF Legal Counsel Mathew Hoffmann said in a statement on Thursday that “Public universities can’t punish students for expressing their political and religious viewpoints.”

“Maggie, like every other student, is protected under the First Amendment to respectfully share her personal beliefs, and university officials were wrong to issue gag orders and silence her speech,” Hoffmann affirmed.


You can follow Alana Mastrangelo on Facebook and Twitter at @ARmastrangelo, and on Instagram.


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