A lawsuit has been filed against Stanford University by the parents of Katie Meyer, the Stanford soccer goalkeeper who captained the university’s 2019 national championship team and later committed suicide at the end of February 2022.
The complaint claims that Meyer was distraught after receiving a letter from the university the night she died that charged her with a “Violation of the Fundamental Standard by spilling coffee on another student,” an incident the complaint states occurred in April 2021. The formal disciplinary charge meant that Meyer’s diploma, which as a senior she would receive in three months, was being placed on hold and her status as a Stanford student was in question.
“Stanford’s after-hours disciplinary charge, and the reckless nature and manner of submission to Katie, caused Katie to suffer an acute stress reaction that impulsively led to her suicide,’’ the complaint declares, according to USA Today. “Katie’s suicide was completed without planning and solely in response to the shocking and deeply distressing information she received from Stanford while alone in her room without any support or resources.”
Meyer’s parents, Steve and Gina, issued a statement saying, “We are deeply troubled and disappointed with what we have learned since her passing and have no choice but to move forward with litigation to achieve justice for Katie and protect future students. In addition, we are working to seek systemic changes to improve the safety and support of the Stanford students currently on campus, and those enrolled in the future through our foundation, Katie’s Save.’’
Dee Mostofi, assistant vice president of external communications for the university, responded to the complaint, informing USA Today Sports, “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. However, we strongly disagree with any assertion that the university is responsible for her death.”
Meyer received the notice after 7 p.m.; Stanford’s Counseling and Psychiatric Services was closed by that time, the complaint asserts.
“Katie, sitting alone in her dorm room, when it was dark outside, immediately responded to the email expressing how ‘shocked and distraught’ she was over being charged and threatened with removal from the university,’’ the complaint asserts. “Stanford failed to respond to Katie’s expression of distress, instead ignored it and scheduled a meeting for 3 days later via email. Stanford employees made no effort whatsoever to check on Katie’s well-being, either by a simple phone call or in-person welfare check.’’
The complaint contends that Meyer told Stanford employees in November 2021 she had “been scared for months that my clumsiness will ruin my chances of leaving Stanford on a good note” and felt anxious through the disciplinary process.
But Mostofi claimed the head of the Office of Community Standards (OCS) contacted Meyer “several days” before the February 28 note. “She gave Katie until that date to provide any further information for consideration,’” Mostofi stated. “Katie provided no information and OCS informed her on the evening of February 28 that the matter would move to a hearing.”
Mostofi also said that in the February 28 letter, Meyer was “explicitly told that this was not a determination that she did anything wrong, and OCS offered to meet with her to discuss the matter if she wished.” Mostofi claimed that Meyer received a phone number to call for immediate support and was alerted that the number was open 24/7.
“Shortly after receiving that email, Katie wrote OCS staff and received a reply within the hour,”’ Mostofi added. “Katie asked for a meeting to discuss the matter, was offered several available times, and chose one three days later despite the availability of an earlier appointment.”
In a statement released through their attorney, Meyer’s parents, Steve and Gina, said, “We are deeply troubled and disappointed with what we have learned since her passing and have no choice but to move forward with litigation to achieve justice for Katie and protect future students. In addition, we are working to seek systemic changes to improve the safety and support of the Stanford students currently on campus, and those enrolled in the future through our foundation, Katie’s Save.’’
“I miss her dearly,” Steve Meyers stated. “Every minute of every day. I miss her when I come here; I spent so much time with her here. She’d do this thing with both of us that was so amazing, heartwarming. We’d go up, walk around campus. It’s be just me and her, just Gina and her. She’d encounter people she knew on campus, all walks, like little tiny philosopher majors, giant football players. She’d go, ‘This is my dad! That’s my mom!’ It was almost disarming, she was just so vivacious and full of life with that stuff. ‘Cause a lot of kids that age are like, ‘My parents are here, whatever.’ It was the reverse of that. The reverse.”
“I think we have to think about our young people,” he continued. “If they are highly competitive, highly, achieving, all these things. From their point of view, they don’t necessarily want to reveal a weakness or something going on in their life that isn’t ideal, that is going against the image that they feel that their parents or their friends or everybody has of them. That’s also one of the core tenets of why Katie’s Save the initiative exists, is to protect that type of kid from being left alone and being left unsupported.”
If you or someone you know is struggling or thinking of harming themselves, please call or text the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline at 988.