The family of Katie Meyer, a star soccer player who died by suicide last spring, has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Stanford University and several administrators alleging their actions surrounding a potential discipl...
In a statement to CNN, Stanford University spokesperson Dee Mostofi refuted the lawsuit’s claims.
“The Stanford community continues to grieve Katie’s tragic death and we sympathize with her family for the unimaginable pain that Katie’s passing has caused them,” Mostofi wrote.
“However, we strongly disagree with any assertion that the university is responsible for her death. While we have not yet seen the formal complaint brought by the Meyer family, we are aware of some of the allegations made in the filing, which are false and misleading,” Mostofi added.
According to Mostofi, the university spokesperson, the letter to Meyer also contained “a number to call for immediate support and was specifically told that this resource was available to her 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”
“It is important to emphasize that we are committed to supporting students through the student judicial process under OCS, and we did so in this case. In particular, the university offered Katie an advisor to work with her throughout the process and told her she could have a support person of her choosing with her in any meeting or conversation with OCS,” Mostofi added.
Noting that Meyer had no prior history of mental illness, the lawsuit further details plans she had made in the days before her death, including purchasing plane tickets, planning a birthday party and attending class and soccer practice as normal.
You were informed that expulsion may be a long-term consequence of your actions and you were told exactly what you needed to do to prevent that eventuality. Completely different from being threatened with imminent expulsion.
I once forgot to submit my rent payment and I received a notice informing me that repeated failure to pay my rent could result in penalties including eviction. Your post above is akin to equating the email I received from my property manager to getting an actual eviction notice.
I disagree. Mainly, there's no evidence that they handled the situation unprofessionally, and Stanford shouldn't be expected to operate as though any student could kill themselves when told they are subject to being potentially expelled.
This is what it sounds like to me: A student took some action that was so severe, they could be expelled for it. The most charitable assumption for the girl is that she didn't have good enough grades. More likely, it was cheating on an exam. The university sent her an email saying she could potentially be expelled based on whatever action she made, and she killed herself that night.
As someone who is both in college and has struggled with depression before: No reasonable person would kill themselves solely because of the threat of potentially being expelled. Many depressed people wouldn't. My guess is that she was already in a really bad mental state and contemplating suicide, and the email is what set her over the edge.
Obviously, it's terrible that it happened, but I don't think Stanford (or any college for that matter) should have to operate as though they have to assume that any student threatened with expulsion could kill themselves. If it's something with their grades, they have a huge amount of resources open to them. If it was something like cheating on an exam, not only does everyone know they could be expelled for it, but it damages the reputation of the school, and can get them unaccredited if left unpunished. Adults who choose to make that decision shouldn't be coddled by the institution they're putting at risk. An email alerting someone that they could be expelled for something they did is a completely professional way to handle it. Maybe not for a medical resident, but absolutely for a college student.
My college has academic advisors, peer advisors, mental health counseling, professors have to offer office hours, and plenty more all for free, and my school is no Stanford. All of the resources are there for students to take advantage. It's terrible what happened to that girl, but I don't think it's reasonable to put blame on Stanford for it.
I'm not really sure what point you are disagreeing with me on. I am not arguing that the school should proceed from the assumption that anyone threatened with expulsion might kill themselves. I am stating that the professional way to handle a potential expulsion or termination is to have the discussion in person. A face to face meeting would have been the professional way to begin the discussion even if the suicide risk was nonexistent.
We don’t know that. According to the lawsuit, the letter “contained threatening language regarding sanctions and potential ‘removal from the university.’”
That sounds to me like the letter she got was similar to mine. Notice the keyword “potential.” It doesn’t sound like the letter stated she was being expelled immediately, just that expulsion was a possibility, pending the outcome of their disciplinary/review process.
I wish we could see the actual letter because it seems like there is a lot of info about this situation we don’t have.
One thing I noticed from the lawsuit is that it contains contradictory information. It states “Stanford employees failed to support Katie when she expressed feelings of despair, she was ‘terrified an accident will destroy my future,’ and she had ‘been scared for months that my clumsiness will ruin my chances of leaving Stanford on a good note,’ and experiencing much ‘anxiety’ related to the OCS Process.” Yet the lawsuit further details plans she had made in the days before her death, including purchasing plane tickets, planning a birthday party and attending class and soccer practice as normal.
Which is it? Was she “scared for months” and riddled with anxiety, or was she ok as normal? That contradictory info makes me question the veracity of the parents’ statements. And, if the coffee incident was merely an “accident” as her parents claim, then why should she have anything to worry about? Again, the parents are distorting the truth. I side with the university.
Ope I just read the CNN article and I'm even more convinced I was right. Scratch what I said about grades and cheating, she assaulted someone. I'm fine with her pouring coffee on someone who allegedly sexually assaulted her friend, BUT it's completely justified from Stanford's perspective that she had to go through the student trial system for assaulting someone. It's completely understandable that she'd be distraught about her diploma being put on hold only 3 months away from graduation, but Stanford gave her a 24/7 number that could give her immediate support, and they gave her an advisor to help. I think Stanford completely fulfilled any moral obligation they had to helping her.
As for her having no history of mental illness, and buying plane tickets and planning a birthday party beforehand, I don't buy her having no mental illness. I don't think a mentally well person could kill themselves after being threatened with expulsion. Just because she bought plane tickets and was planning a party doesn't mean she wasn't suicidal, it could just mean she wasn't planning on committing suicide. Depressed people, and even suicidal people, go on living their lives. Suicide is often a spur of the moment action. That's why people who jump off a bridge and live say they regretted it as soon as they jumped off. There's just a moment when you feel so bad that you decide you're gonna do it, even if you wouldn't feel the same way an hour later. I'd bet that she was mentally ill and the email she got just sent her over the edge. It's horrible that it happened, but I think Stanford acted more than responsibly.
I'm saying it's not unprofessional for them to send an email about it. After reading the article it sounds like she was emailed a notice that she'd have to go through student court for what she did, and that a possible result could be that she'd get expelled. I'd say it was unprofessional if she was left to her own devices to figure out what to do, but they gave her a 24/7 number to help her and gave her an advisor.
She did it intentionally. If it were an accident, the person would have a right to be upset and may force her to pay for the ruined clothes, but there’s NO WAY Stanford would have expelled any student, let alone a student athlete, for an accident like that.
For people who don’t think they should have emailed - how are they to contact a student to let them know there’s a proceeding open? And obviously they need to have a record of following steps. I think it would be worse to get a vague email saying “we need to meet with you on a serious matter but we can’t tell you what it is, please show up at this office tomorrow so we can tell you in person.” Isn’t that more anxiety inducing? I’d rather know right away what the issue is so I can start dealing with it. It would freak me out to have no idea why I’m being summoned.
Are they supposed to wait for her after class? Show up and pull her out of practice? Then people would be talking about how they threatened her and harassed and humiliated her in public, etc. The only way to communicate the initial action is email, especially because, as I said, they need to show they followed a process and without a paper trail anyone could claim they weren’t informed, didn’t know the consequences, etc. Telling her clearly what the issue is, offering a line for support and the option for counselling is really all it seems they can do, no?
It’s very sad and obviously devastating for the parents but, while we can argue disciplinary action should never have been opened at all, since it was, I can’t see how emailing that information is wrong, or at least among the least worst alternatives…
Universities don’t have permission to call students’ private numbers like that, if they even have access to it (admissions probably has a number from the application but students change their numbers all the time.) University email is required, and you sign on to using the network and it’s the official avenue of communication. They could email and ask you to call, but like I said, I can’t see how that’s any better since it would still be telling you to call a disciplinary officer. And confidentiality is a thing so they can’t ask a professor or coach to bring you in or break the news. You’re an adult, so no parents can be contacted and again, you have the right to confidentiality.
I’m not claiming to be a tough guy at all. I will say, however, that it is alarming to me that so many people on this thread think Stanford should take any responsibility for her death. What has happened to our society to cause people to have no ability to deal with adversity. That is a basic life skill that everyone MUST learn in order to live 50, 60, 70+ years. Life is tough even for the most privileged. It is terribly sad for family for sure. I also think that it is partly because our society, news stations and even leaders in our country have made it so when people are fighting for a worthy cause (in this case - in support of her allegedly raped friend) you can do whatever you want including assault with coffee. It’s not ok and I’m not supporting the football player. You just can’t go around hitting people with vigilante justice. She was wrong in doing that and she was even more wrong to not take responsibility for the assault and being so selfish as to put her family through this horrible tragedy.
Can we not read between the lines very well here? Seems like a messy situation.
Kind of seems like Football player rapes a soccer player. School does nothing. Different soccer player is mad at nothing happening and in a moment of outrage spills coffee on football player. Months go by, still nothing done on the rape, likely despite urging of many soccer players. Then letter comes so in face rapist gets away, but coffee spiller may harmed in their career. Seems 100% like a thing that could happen at any D1 school.
It was entirely your fault that your partied too much and your grade dropped below 2.0 You have absolutely no one but yourself to blame, You also knew, or should have known that you needed to maintain 2.0 GPA to stay in school.
Was it Meyer's fault that her teammate was sexually assaulted by a football player?
Do you know whether this assault was thorouhgly investigated? Do you know why no disciplinary action was taken against the football player?
Do you know if "coffee spill" was accidental or not? Do you know whether the football player suffered any physical injury as a result of coffee spill? Do you know whether the football player reported the incident as an assault to the authority? Do you know what kind of action had been taken on this "coffee spill" incident? Do you know the status of investigation on this coffee spill incident? Do you know whether she has been informed about the statuis of investigation prior to the threatening letter?
In practical terms, I was a pre-internet person until about my mid-thirties. Prior to 1997, internet was slow and an expensive long distance phone call. People are using email far too much post 1996. Eg. office meeting in three days. Good use of email. Eg. Hello coach I want to be a full ride athlete on your college T&F team. Not the best use of email. Eg. Assistant coach to T&F athlete: You're too fat. Your off the team. Turn in your gear tomorrow. That is awful use of email. Before I email, I say to myself: How would I have handled this situation 26 years ago.
I don’t know why you think Universities are not allowed to call personal phone numbers, they can, they usually do not because they would need to verify that they are speaking with the intended contact prior to disclosing any information. University email is preferred because they have a protected access that only the student should know unless the student gave away the information to someone to log on.
Thank you for being the only person to hint at what she did to get disciplinary action. Is this really it??? She threw coffee on a football player who assaulted her friend? What happened to that guy? If he really did assault a girl, then how could anyone want to punish Katie? Stories like this always leave out the most relevant details.
My first paragraph was necessary because you were comparing two entirely different situations. You were completely responsible for the mess you created. Meyer was NOT.
How was the investigation on sexual assault irrelevant? Do you think she just spilled the coffee because she did not like the football player? Have you ever sexually assaulted? Has any of your close friends ever been sexually assaulted? What would be your reaction if nothing was done about the assault?
And since you don't know anything about the actual situation, you should not have judged her. Your original post did nothing to advance the discussion. Wait, it did insult the deceased person by suggesting she was too weak, unlike yourself.