Every fall, a new batch of freshmen and transfer students make their way to Texas State and begin to call San Marcos their new home.
Returning students are also making their way back into the San Marcos scene, in addition to longtime residents who work, live and raise their families without any connection to the university.
The side effects of thousands of students rushing into San Marcos is not limited to just more traffic and the local H-E-B running out of groceries. The effects are very similar to the ones seen in gentrification.
As of July 2017, San Marcos had a population of 63,071 residents, and as of fall 2017, Texas State has 38,694 total students enrolled. According to The Austin American-Statesmen, Texas State’s population is hard to factor into the census because many students either did not receive a census form to their mailing addresses, or they received—but never turned in—their census forms. It is fair to say, however, that Texas State students make up at least half of San Marcos’ population during the school year.
One issue that arises frequently is student housing, as seen recently when Texas State overbooked its dorms. However, Texas State is not the only culprit here. Just last fall, hundreds of students were displaced due to construction delays at student housing complex Pointe San Marcos. Students, however, do not face the long-term effects rapid population growth causes in San Marcos.
As the number of Texas State students continues to increase every year, there is an amplified need for more student residencies. This year alone, Texas State welcomed nearly 7,000 students to live on campus. However, there are currently two multi-family complexes under construction in San Marcos, with five more under consideration. In just the last six years, 23 apartment complexes have been built in San Marcos, altogether totaling 3,741 units and 10,324 bedrooms. Most of these complexes are built to specifically serve students who live off-campus.
These students impede into the daily lives of San Marcos residents. Gentrification is defined as the renovation of a house or district to conform to middle-class taste. Socially, gentrification is seen as the takeover of neighborhoods with low rent by middle-class people, which transitions the needs of that neighborhood from the long-term residents to the new implants.
We see this in San Marcos through the thousands of students funneling into the area every year. Some students may not view San Marcos as a home and therefore do not have the same respect for the city as long-term San Marcos residents. Issues such as confetti in the river, the multiple student housing complexes changing San Marcos’s skyline and the effects college parties have on the community are only the more immediate effects of student takeover in San Marcos.
With Texas State being the fourth largest university in Texas, the student population is growing rapidly every year. Long-term, we have yet to see what other effects Texas State will have on San Marcos and what other needs of native San Martians will be pushed aside to cater to students.
One way that Texas State offers to help San Marcos is through a program called Bobcat Build. This one-day event is held every spring semester to strengthen the bond between Texas State University and the community of San Marcos. It’s a good start but more needs to be done.
As students, there is not much we can do on an individual level to stop the gentrification of San Marcos. After all, most of us are all here simply to earn a degree and do not have malicious intentions for San Marcos. Perhaps the blame lies with city officials and the university for perpetuating and facilitating this student takeover.
There might not be a simple solution to this for now. What students should be reminded of this coming school year is most of us are guests to San Marcos and should treat this community with respect, as well as get more involved with organizations that benefit San Marcos and its long-term residents.
– Carissa Liz Castillo is an English senior