July 21, 2023
By Braden Cartwright
Daily Post Staff Writer
The parents of a Stanford soccer player who killed herself after getting a disciplinary letter from the university have filed a new version of their lawsuit alleging that Stanford knew that its discipline process was flawed and that students were struggling with their mental health.
Stanford officials “bullied” Katie Meyer, 22, even though they knew she was under a lot of stress, the lawsuit says.
Meyer was facing discipline for spilling coffee on a football player who allegedly sexually assaulted one of her teammates, the lawsuit says.
Stanford’s approach to disciplining Meyer was “negligent and reckless,” attorney Jarrod Wilfert wrote in the lawsuit for her parents, Steve and Gina Meyer.
The Office of Community Standards emailed Meyer a letter on Feb. 28, 2022, saying that a diploma hold was going to be placed on her account, three months before graduation. Meyer had dreams of going to Stanford Law School, and the disciplinary action put that plan in jeopardy, the lawsuit says. The discipline also “threatened her status as a Stanford student, captain and member of the soccer team, residential adviser, Mayfield Fellow and Defense Innovative Scholar, amongst many other things,” the lawsuit says.
Meyer killed herself in her dorm that night, with the email open on her computer.
“Had Stanford and its employees acted with reasonable care and with any sense of humanity, Katie would be alive and here with us today,” Wilfert wrote in the second version of his lawsuit, filed on July 14.
Stanford has known that its discipline process is overly punitive, and that there aren’t enough therapists to meet with students regularly, the lawsuit says.
In 2011, a group of Stanford alumni entered into a case study called the Student Justice Project.
The project “uncovered systemic misconduct and wrongdoings within Stanford violating the 1997 Student Judicial Charter and students’ due process right,” the lawsuit says.
The Student Justice Project presented Stanford with a 60-page report with testimonials and suggestions for giving students better legal representation, but Stanford didn’t do anything in response, the lawsuit says.
In 2020, the Associated Students of Stanford University appointed a committee to review Stanford’s discipline process.
The committee found the process takes too long — in some cases, months — even for minor violations. The committee suggested speeding up the process, improving transparency and focusing more on education.
Again, Stanford didn’t follow the recommendations, according to the lawsuit.
The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, a group that advocates for freedom of speech at colleges, made similar findings in 2020 that Stanford’s due process was insufficient, the lawsuit says.
The lawsuit lists seven Stanford students who have died by suicide since January 2019: Ziwen Wang, Kelly Catlin, Norah Borus, Rose Wong, Jacob Meisel and Dylan Alexander Simmons.
The lawsuit notes that there may be more people who weren’t counted.
The Meyers are seeking at least $10 million in their wrongful death lawsuit.
Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Frederick Chung dismissed six of their eight claims in May and gave the Meyers a month to amend their lawsuit.
The football player who allegedly sexually assaulted Meyer’s teammate was never punished, the lawsuit says. The teammate was a minor at the time, and Meyer was the team captain.
Meyer spilled coffee on him in a dining hall in August 2021.
Lisa Caldera, associate dean for student support, filed a complaint against Meyer, not the football player, according to the lawsuit.
“The disciplinary process at Stanford was applied discriminatorily, and Katie and other women were prosecuted while male students were let off with minimal consequences,” the lawsuit says.