San Diego State neighbors complain about out-of-control parties as students return to campus
San Diego State University greeted students on the first day of the semester on Monday and while it is a new year, some things are much the same.
This year's freshman class is the largest ever for SDSU, with nearly 6,500 students admitted. More than 1,900 are local — an increase of 23% from last year.
For some students, like Streicher Mills, a freshman from Las Vegas, it's their first time away from home.
"It was sad saying goodbye to my parents just because I've never lived without them and I rely on them a lot," he said. "But it was good — it's like a good step in life to become more independent and stuff."
Mills misses his sister, who goes to the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, because "we used to always go and get food together."
For other students, this year, for the first time since the start of the pandemic, it feels like the typical college experience.
"You see all the freshmen walking around and class feeling back to normal," SDSU junior Grace Pazerekas said. "I actually feel comfortable this year, so it's exciting."
There are, however, still signs that the pandemic is not yet over.
Students will still need to wear masks to class. SDSU adopted the mask mandate on Aug. 5 when San Diego County entered the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention "high" level for COVID-19 transmission. The county has since dropped down to the "medium" level, but the university's mandate remains for the time being.
Students don't seem to be bothered by the mask mandate. Though some thought it was strange that the mask mandate was only required for the classroom and not anywhere else.
"I think it's kind of weird that we have to wear them in class and the teachers don't and that we don't even have to wear them in the gym. We don't have to wear them in our dorm," freshman Sophia Murphy from Seattle said. "But it's not a big deal."
With the return of students, however, come the parties and the trouble. Friday, San Diego police arrested two minors who brandished a gun and a hatchet following a fight at an off-campus party. Neighbors are tired of it.
"I've never seen it that bad as it was on Friday," said Jim Jenning, who's lived in the College Area for more than 22 years.
He said it's hell living next to the campus for the first few months of the semester. He faults the university for not doing more to stop it.
"One of the things I think, where I'm most upset about with State is, they talk a good game," Jennings said. "They say, 'Well, we're going to get involved and we send out the student code of conduct that ... say they shouldn't do this, they shouldn't do that.' But then they say, 'You know, well, if they're over 21, and they're drinking in a house. There's nothing we can do about it.'"
For its part, SDSU launched an app called SDSU Safe, where students can report things such as out-of-control parties. SDPD said it will increase patrol around the campus until at least Labor Day to cut down on the parties and the crowds.
Some students think the student body also bears responsibility.
"Students should definitely try and be better neighbors," Pazerekas said. "We're only here usually for one year out of the whole school year, and there's residents that have been living here for the past 30 years, so just being mindful of your neighbors is always just a smart idea."
KPBS is a service of San Diego State University