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SIU officials respond to ADF letter, Christian student’s paper finally graded by professor

ADF Center for Academic Freedom attorneys pleased with quick response but still waiting for assurance that student constitutional rights will be preserved
Published On: 3/13/2007

CARBONDALE, Ill. — Officials at Southern Illinois University responded quickly to a demand letter sent from the Alliance Defense Fund Center for Academic Freedom requesting that graduate student Christine Mize’s final research project be graded fairly and promptly.  Mize had been in a holding position since December 2006, when a professor refused to grade her final paper after Mize mentioned that her initial project contained religious material.

“No student should be punished for exercising their constitutional rights, including the right to include faith-based opinions in their academic work,” said ADF Litigation Counsel Amy Smith.  “We are pleased that, upon receiving our letter explaining Christine’s constitutional rights, officials at SIU moved quickly to right this injustice and allow Christine’s paper to be graded.”

ADF attorneys sent a letter to SIU officials on behalf of Mize on March 7.  Dr. Laura Dreuth-Zeman had refused to grade Mize’s paper because Mize had wanted to include a faith-based element in the paper as part of an eight-week therapy program for women suffering from post-abortion syndrome.  Even though Mize did not include the faith-based element at Dreuth-Zeman’s request, the professor still refused to grade the paper, resulting in a grade of “incomplete” for the class.  That grade could have resulted in keeping Mize from finishing her degree.

“Now that this issue has been resolved, we hope that Christine Mize can continue on with her education without fear of further reprisals from professors hostile to her faith-based worldview,” said Smith.  “Southern Illinois University officials and professors have been put on notice that the First Amendment trumps personal agendas.”

The ADF Center for Academic Freedom is defending religious freedom at America’s public universities.  ADF is a legal alliance of Christian attorneys and like-minded organizations defending the right of people to freely live out their faith. Launched in 1994, ADF employs a unique combination of strategy, training, funding, and litigation to protect and preserve religious liberty, the sanctity of life, marriage, and the family. 

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