“University Compensates Christian Student for Alleged Suppression of Conservative Perspectives”

Southern Illinois University Edwardsville has agreed to pay $80,000 to Maggie DeJong, a Christian student, as part of a settlement in a lawsuit. The suit, represented by the Alliance Defending Freedom, accused the university of silencing her conservative views.

DeJong, who completed the art therapy counseling program at the school last year, claimed that she faced repercussions for expressing her outspoken conservative beliefs.

In addition to the monetary settlement, SIUE will also conduct mandatory First Amendment training for three professors, demonstrating their commitment to safeguarding constitutional freedoms within the educational environment.

“Public universities can’t punish students for expressing their political and religious viewpoints,” ADF attorney Mathew Hoffmann said in a Monday press release.

“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,” added Hoffmann.

“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.”

In an effort to create a more inclusive atmosphere for students with diverse political, religious, and ideological views in its art therapy program, the university will revise its policies.

This development is a significant step towards acknowledging and respecting ideological diversity within academic settings, fostering a dynamic exchange of ideas.

Maggie DeJong, expressing her conservative perspectives on her personal Instagram account, faced criticism from some fellow students. These posts, which defended Kyle Rittenhouse, criticized critical race theory, and advocated pro-life perspectives, led to complaints against her.

The university’s response to these complaints raised concerns about the protection of free speech and conservative viewpoints on campus, ultimately leading to a lawsuit by DeJong. The school conducted an investigation and issued three “no contact” orders against her, restricting her interactions with the complaining art therapy graduate students.

SIUE Chancellor James Minor emphasized the university’s commitment to safeguarding First Amendment rights, urging people to seek a comprehensive understanding of the facts beyond sensationalized media reports and headlines. He stated that SIUE unequivocally supports free speech and opposes censorship.

“SIUE remains committed to free speech, popular or unpopular, offensive or affable, in an environment that embraces the exchange of diverse views on every aspect of human society.”