Just nine days after San Diego State University opened its campus up to nearly 8,000 students, administrators announced they wanted to drop in-person classes and move classes online.
The reason for the change in course came after 64 students tested positive for COVID-19 and at least 100 others were forced to quarantine themselves due to possible exposure to the virus. NBC 7 Investigates first reported on concerns of community spread at the university in an August 27 report.
Now, residents of the College Area fear that college administrators may have risked their safety by partially opening campus and their neighborhoods to parties and a possible community spread of COVID-19.
“We have just come to our wits end,” said Susan Hopps-Tatum, who stood alongside twelve neighbors who are upset at San Diego State’s lack of consideration for its own neighbors.
Hopps-Tatum says she saw an uptick in parties since the Fall Semester began, disturbing even despite the fact that her and a number of her neighbors expected to see COVID-19 cases spike with the arrival of college students.
“Many of these parties had hundreds of students with no social distancing and no masks and yet they continue unabated. It’s been very frustrating but we’re not surprised about the number of cases, we know they’re going to go up.”
Added Hopps-Tatum, “We’d like to see them take some ownership of their students, because they’re not housing many on campus. Where do they think off campus is? It is the entire neighborhood surrounding the university, and we’d like some transparency.
“These are their students, they wouldn’t be in this community if the university wasn’t here. They came back to attend online classes, instead of staying home to attend. Which is fine, that’s they’re choice. But it’s so that they can socialize, and socializing in and of itself isn’t a problem, but huge parties with no masks and no social distancing is a problem.”
JoAnn Humphus is one of Hopps-Tatum’s neighbors. Humphus says she wrote a letter to SDSU President Adela de la Torre with these concerns but has yet to hear a response.
“We’re being dismissed,” Humphus said. “We’re tired of being dismissed. We need to be heard, so that’s why we are here today, that’s why I am here today.”
In addition to pushing pause on in-person classes, SDSU administrators have ordered a cease to all on-campus activities, including practices for the university sports teams.
In a statement, a spokesperson for SDSU told NBC 7 that the school is monitoring any off-campus violations and consequences are severe.
"Consequences range from an official warning to expulsion,” wrote the spokesperson. “We've issued 311 notices of possible violations."