Stanford submitted a brief in the Santa Clara County court on Friday, May 19 opposing the Theta Delta Chi (TDX) Chapter at Stanford’s petition for writ of mandate: a legal order issued by a court that in this case tells the University to reverse the removal of the fraternity on campus.
Stanford’s brief argues that the TDX group that filed the lawsuit lacks standing to sue. The brief further argues that the University sanctions on TDX were not excessive and ultimately asks the court to dismiss the petition for writ of mandate based on these arguments.
The brief, which is Stanford’s first brief filed in the TDX case, comes in response to a brief submitted by the TDX chapter at Stanford.
The local TDX chapter’s brief, a petition for writ of mandate, is spearheaded by the non-Stanford affiliated alumni group #SaveStanfordTDX (SSTDX). SSTDX, who hired the lawyer, claims to be suing on behalf of the local Stanford TDX chapter. However, in Stanford’s brief, the University argues that SSTDX does not have a sufficient legal interest or right to say that they are suing on behalf of the local chapter.
The University declined to comment on the significance of the case or if the University is actively collecting more evidence in its internal investigation of the Weiner case, writing “we cannot comment or speculate on active legal cases.”
“Stanford is committed to student safety and promoting safe environments where all students can flourish,” University spokesperson Dee Mostofi wrote.
SSTDX’s April 23 lawsuit against Stanford comes after the University removed TDX from campus in 2021 following a University investigation that found three violations of the Fundamental Standard. The investigation of TDX was related to Weiner’s death in January 2020 from an accidental fentanyl overdose.
In a separate lawsuit, the Weiner family sued Stanford last year for Weiner’s wrongful death, alleging negligence against the University.
Unlike the Weiner family case, TDX filed a writ of mandate, a procedural lawsuit. As outlined in the TDX brief, the chapter wants Stanford to reverse its decision to remove the fraternity, lifting the suspension and potentially reinstating the campus fraternity house.
In Stanford’s brief arguing that the group petitioning for reinstatement does not have standing to sue, the University’s lawyers claimed that the “Petitioner” — referring to SSTDX — “is a small group of alumni … and not the Local TDX Chapter (or even student members of that Chapter).”
According to the University’s brief, only the local TDX chapter and the student members involved in the removal of the house in 2021 have standing to sue. Further, Stanford’s brief claims that neither SSTDX or the local TDX chapter have standing to bring this mandamus action as they are both unincorporated associations.
The brief goes on to argue that the local TDX chapter cannot acquire standing by “claiming to seek relief on behalf of possible future members,” such as future members of the fraternity.
“Stanford’s position is essentially an effort to throw us out of court on a technicality and to deny TDX the further use of the legal system to seek a just outcome to our complaints,” SSTDX spokesperson Mark Hathaway wrote in an email to The Daily. “Interestingly, by attempting to win on this particular technicality, Stanford’s lawyer-administrators are, in effect, saying that we should be denied the protection of the courts and pursue our grievances against Stanford directly.”
In TDX’s brief, the local chapter argued that Stanford failed to follow previous policies and ultimately made an unfair decision against the chapter with “no evidence” to support the University’s findings that TDX violated the fundamental standard.
However, the University disputes this claim and says that regardless of whether the local TDX chapter has standing to sue, the court should still not reverse Stanford’s decision to remove the chapter. In the brief, they argue that during the process of investigating the local TDX chapter, the University adhered to its policies and provided a fair proceeding.
In the University’s brief, Stanford’s lawyers go on to argue that the evidence of the local chapter’s wrongdoing is in fact supported by the University’s Organization Conduct Board panel’s findings.
“There was a culture of illicit drug use by the Local TDX Chapter before and at the time of [Eitan Weiner’s] death,” Stanford’s brief claims.
Stanford argued in their brief that the effects of the sanction had “nonexistent” effects on individual students and only affected the rights of the fraternity. “Reasonable minds” would find a four-year loss of fraternity recognition and housing “appropriate,” the brief argued.
Additionally, Stanford’s brief cited Vice Provost Susie Brubaker-Cole’s decision to decrease the recommended period of the fraternity’s loss of recognition from six years to four years, to counter TDX’s argument that the University had “retaliate[d] TDX’s exercise of its right to appeal by increasing sanctions.”
Stanford’s brief concludes by asking the court to “dismiss the Petition for lack of standing or, alternatively, deny the relief requested in the Petition on the merits.”