Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (SIUE) has reached a settlement of $80,000 with a former graduate student, Maggie DeJong, to resolve a lawsuit in which she accused the university of discriminating against her due to her outspoken Christian beliefs. The settlement was revealed by the nonprofit legal organization Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) on Wednesday. On behalf of DeJong, ADF attorneys filed the lawsuit in May 2022, alleging that university officials violated her constitutional and civil rights. DeJong reported that she was singled out and treated unfairly by the university because her Christian views were different from those of her fellow students.
CBN News reports:
Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (SIUE) has agreed to pay a former graduate student $80,000 to settle a lawsuit in which she alleged the university discriminated against her for being an outspoken Christian.
The settlement was announced by the nonprofit Alliance Defending Freedom on Wednesday.
ADF attorneys filed the lawsuit on behalf of Maggie DeJong against university officials in May of 2022 for violating her civil and constitutional rights. DeJong claimed she was singled out because her Christian views differed from her fellow students.
According to court documents, Dejong graduated last year.
While a graduate student in SIUE’s Art Therapy program, DeJong posted materials to her social media accounts, sent messages to fellow students, and engaged in class discussions on an array of topics, including religion, politics, critical race theory, COVID-19 regulations, and censorship. But because DeJong’s views—informed by her Christian faith and political stance—often differed from those of other students in the art therapy program, several of her fellow students reported her speech to university officials.
In February 2022, those officials issued three no-contact orders against DeJong, prohibiting her from having “any contact” or even “indirect communication” with three fellow graduate students who complained that her expression of religious and political viewpoints constituted “harassment” and “discrimination.”
The conflict between Dejong and the other three students stemmed from discussions concerning politics and social issues. Topics included the Kenosha, Wisc., case of acquitted shooting suspect Kyle Rittenhouse, Black Lives Matter, and Marxism, according to court documents.
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