Illinois University to Pay $80,000 in Settlement for Silencing Student's Christian Views

Milton Quintanilla | CrosswalkHeadlines Contributor | Updated: Aug 04, 2023
Illinois University to Pay $80,000 in Settlement for Silencing Student's Christian Views

Illinois University to Pay $80,000 in Settlement for Silencing Student's Christian Views

Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (SIUE) will pay $80,000 in a settlement after a former graduate student sued the school for discriminating against her for sharing her Christian views.

On Wednesday, the nonprofit Alliance Defending Freedom announced that a settlement was reached between the school and Maggie DeJong after ADF attorneys first filed the lawsuit in May of 2022, CBN News reported.

At the time, DeJong, who graduated from SIUE last year, argued that the school violated her constitutional rights and singled her out because her beliefs as a Christian differed from the other students when it came to topics in class discussions, including religion, politics, critical race theory, COVID-19 regulations, and censorship.

In February 2022, school officials issued DeJong three no-contact orders after three graduate students accused her of "harassment" and "discrimination" over her views.

The following month, a federal district court rejected the school's attempt to dismiss DeJong's lawsuit.

"DeJong clearly has the right, as enshrined in the First Amendment, to express her religious, political, and social views on her personal social media account and to engage in mutual conversations with fellow students regarding those opinions without fear of retaliation from school officials," U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois wrote in its DeJong v. Pembrook decision.

In a press release, ADF Legal Counsel Mathew Hoffmann contended that the school's alleged discrimination against DeJong was wrong since the First Amendment protects her views.

"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 said.

"As a result of Maggie's courage in filing suit, SIUE has agreed to take critical steps to comply with the law and the U.S. Constitution and move closer to accepting and embracing true diversity of thought and speech," Hoffmann continued.

Meanwhile, SIUE Chancellor James T. Minor stressed the university's commitment to supporting an individual's First Amendment rights.

"SIUE is unequivocally committed to protecting First Amendment rights and does not have policies that restrict free speech nor support censorship," Minor, who became chancellor in 2022, said in a statement.

"I trust that most people who care about these issues will see beyond the sensationalism of clickbait, media reports, and headlines in search of a more complete understanding of the facts," he said.


*Note: The views expressed in this podcast do not necessarily reflect those of Christian Headlines. 

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Milton Quintanilla is a freelance writer and content creator. He is a contributing writer for CrosswalkHeadlines and the host of the For Your Soul Podcast, a podcast devoted to sound doctrine and biblical truth. He holds a Masters of Divinity from Alliance Theological Seminary.

Illinois University to Pay $80,000 in Settlement for Silencing Student's Christian Views