University may face legal action after issuing student a 'no contact' order for using 'unwelcome' speech

A Southern Illinois University Edwardsville student has been served with 'no contact orders' because her speech was not 'welcome' by her peers.

Alliance Defending Freedom is threatening legal action if the university does not retract the orders.

Alliance Defending Freedom is threatening Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (SIUE) with legal action if it does not rescind several “no contact orders” issued against a student because her speech was deemed not “welcome or appropriate” by her peers. 

SIUE Art Therapy Counseling student Maggie DeJong was notified on three separate occasions by the Office of Equal Opportunity, Access, and Title IX Coordination that three “no-contact orders” have been issued against her. 

According to a Feb. 23 letter sent to the school from Alliance Defending Freedom, the reasoning given for the order is based “‘upon information and belief that interactions between yourself and [redacted] would not be welcome or appropriate at this time.’” 

Campus Reform spoke to DeJong about the situation. 

“Over the course of my academic career at SIUE, I have spoken out in defense of my Christian worldview, and have been heavily criticized by both professors and students. I thought that the learning environment welcomed Socratic dialogue and diversity of thought and was very upset when the University placed three no-contact orders on me,” DeJong said.

The order continues by stating that it “‘is not an indication of responsibility for a violation of University policy; rather it is intended to prevent interactions that could be perceived by either party as unwelcome, retaliatory, intimidating, or harassing.’” 

[RELATED: SURVEY: Students' confidence in free speech rights, support for safe spaces plummet]

DeJong’s counsel Tyson Langhofer claims in the letter that the student has “not engaged in any conduct toward [redacted] that constitutes harassment or could amount to a violation of any valid University rule.” 

“The no contact orders are infringing upon Ms. DeJong's ability to fully participate in her educational experience and exercise her First Amendment rights,” the letter states.

Furthermore, the letter explains that DeJong has classes with and works at the same facility as two of the accusers. Additionally, she is “prohibited from participating in the group chat.” 

Lastly, DeJong is “chilled in her ability to frequent campus for fear of encountering one of the named individuals and being accused of violating the no contact orders.”

The orders apply to DeJong’s on and off campus activities through the end of the current Spring 2022 semester unless the university decides to modify the order’s stipulations. 

[RELATED: WATCH: University administrator disrupts Cabot Phillips event until auditorium masks up]

DeJong’s counsel claims that the policies undergirding the orders are “unconstitutional” due to several reasons including the “restraints” the orders place on the student’s speech and the “unbridled discretion” given to SIUE employees to “impose the orders and modify their terms and duration.” 

Campus Reform spoke to an attorney for Southeastern Legal Foundation and Director of SLF’s 1A Project Cece O’Leary about no contact orders. She described them as “unconstitutional because they scare students into silence.”

“Their purpose here is clear: to prevent this student from sharing her views on campus and in the classroom. But the First Amendment demands protection of every voice, especially on college campuses,” O’Leary concluded.

ADF is demanding that SIUE “immediately rescind the three no contact orders” by February 25, and either “stop interpreting and enforcing its policies in this manner” or “revise its policies to adequately safeguard students’ constitutional rights.”

If the university does not comply with these demands, ADF makes clear that DeJong “will have no option but to consider other avenues for vindicating her rights.” 

SIUE director of media relations Megan Wieser told Campus Reform that the university is “reviewing the relevant information” and “a determination of actions is expected" within a matter of days.