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NDSU must grant religious exemption to its 'freshmen live on campus' policy

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A committee of the state Board of Higher Education says North Dakota State University must treat requests from freshmen for an exemption from its on-campus housing policy on religious grounds the same as it does any other requests.

NDSU requires freshmen to live on-campus. But there are exemptions.

The director of the NDSU Newman Center filed a complaint with the board, alleging the University was denying all student requests for religious exemptions, and saying it constitutes religious discrimination. Six incoming freshmen students for the 2021-2022 school year asked for the exemption, so they could live in the Newman Living Center, adjacent to the campus.

The investigation into the matter found NDSU did not have a consistent policy with regard to religious exemptions. And recent US Supreme Court decisions have said if a law or rule offers exemption for secular reasons, it must also do so based on religious beliefs.

Board member Nick Hacker is a member of the audit committee. He moved that the six students be granted the waivers, and that NDSU refund any housing deposits those students made.

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