College Area Homeowners Upset SDSU Not Testing Off-Campus Students

Hepner Hall on the campus of San Diego State University.

While county leaders hope to get the California Gov. Gavin Newsom to reconsider his decision to include San Diego State University cases in the region's case counts, some families living near campus say they are fed up with the way things have gone so far.

“We feel like we’ve kind of been left to our own [devices],” said Susan Hopps-Tatum, who lives four blocks from San Diego State.

On Tuesday, the university announced -- after reporting 676 positive or probable student cases -- it would require all on-campus students to be tested for COVID-19.

The vast majority of those cases -- 75 percent -- were from off-campus students, however, yet the school is not requiring off-campus students to take a test.

“It’s really frustrating,” Hopps-Tatum said. “We really feel like they’re not taking care of their off-campus students -- who are their students.”

Ian Stenehjem lives one block from campus.      

“It sounds like it’s trying to hide the numbers,” Stenehjem said.

Stenehjem, too, takes issue with the lack of testing for off-campus students, since there have been parties off-campus with students congregating without social distancing.

“If there’s a group ... that isn’t being monitored, then there’s a big unknown that we can’t respond to,” Stenehjem said.

NBC 7 reached out to SDSU to ask why the school isn't testing off-campus students. Officials responded, in part, "The university does not have the authority to mandate testing to the general off-campus student population."

Stenehjem and Hopps-Tatum don't buy the university's position.

“You know, their motto is leadership,” Stenehjem said. “But oftentimes we don’t see leadership from SDSU. They just kind of deny that they’re a huge player in this community. They’re the biggest influence in the surrounding community, and they kind of pretend like they don’t have that influence and they don’t have responsibility for the surrounding community.”

Both Stenehjem and Hopps-Tatum feel that only requiring testing of on-campus students is emblematic of SDSU's handling of a problem that now extends far beyond the campus property line.

“They need to be held accountable for their lack of testing at the beginning of school, and their lack of testing and required testing for students off-campus,” Hopps-Tatum said.

Off-campus students don't just make up the majority of positive student COVID-19 cases, they make up the majority of SDSU students, period.

Right now, roughly 2,400 students live on campus, less than 10 percent of the student population, which exceeds 30,000.

Below is a copy of the entire statement SDSU provided to NBC 7:

The university does not have the authority to mandate testing to the general off-campus student population. Approximately 75 percent of all cases are from the off-campus student population. To be clear, that includes students who have not had any contact with the SDSU campus but are SDSU students and reside within San Diego County. These cases are counted through the ongoing cross-referencing between SDSU's Student Health Services and the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA).

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