A very long Spring and late rains in the upper Sacramento Valley make it feel as if Summer just began. We've enjoyed very few days of over 100 degree heat, so I have a hard time remembering that we're in mid-August already.
Of course, mid-August around here brings a lot of excitement. The City Council race is heating up, Chico Unified is back in session and we will soon be welcoming all the Chico State students (back) to Chico. This year that will include roughly 1400 first-time freshman.
Enrollment at Chico State is down this year, as it is in the entire CSU system, the result of a State budget that remains, well, ridiculously screwed up. (Sorry...there's just no nice way to say that).
But even with lower enrollments the City will soon be impacted by an influx of young and exuberant students, eager to flex their independence muscles and venture into the land of grown-up living. Our twins are among them and the excitement is tangible.
There are dorm rooms to decorate, bikes to tune-up, closets to clean out. (Imagine if you will the shear volume of clothing twin teenage girls can accumulate over 18 years. It's mind-boggling.) Our girls are lucky enough to be moving into Sutter Hall, the almost-finished, state-of-the-art dorm on campus. I hope some day they'll fully understand how lucky they are to enjoy the opportunity to live on campus, becoming fully absorbed in college life, even though we live right here in town. Right now they are just too excited about starting school to be reflective about that, so we won't hold our breath just yet.
It's this time of year that the community as a whole breathes a big sigh.
Those of us in business can tell you very clearly what the student population does for our local economy. Statistics indicate that student spending averages about $13,000 per student for the academic year. That includes their housing, food, clothing and entertainment. That economic boost represents the sigh of relief we feel that more money will soon be circulating in our economy.
And then there is the other sigh...the one of mild apprehension. Will all these new residents understand their responsibilities to the community. Will they respect our laws, property and traditions? Will they, in essence, behave themselves?
Every year University leadership does a good job of outlining the expectations of living in Chico and I'm guessing that most of the students start out wanting to be good neighbors. And every year the community hopes they stick to that goal.
I hope that the current crop of students remembers a few basic rules. Here's my own list in no particular order:
1. Be respectful to your elders. You attend college at a CSU campus and that means that all of us are helping finance your education, so be nice to the local taxpayers.
2. It is never OK to mistreat our Police Department personnel. Pay attention to the laws and you'll do just fine.
3. Spend more money in local stores than you do on the Internet. It's important to our local economy.
4. St. Patricks Day, Cesear Chavez Day and Halloween are not good reasons for drinking to excess and forgetting rule #2.
5. Urinating in public is never okay. Seriously...NEVER.
6. Be a good Samaritan sometimes. It never hurts and might make you feel good about yourself.
7. When walking downtown in the sidewalk....HURRY UP! You are holding up traffic when you dawdle, so put-a-fire-under-it and get out of the street.
So that's my short list. Feel free to share it will a college student near you.
And now the downside of attending school in your hometown when your parents are somewhat involved in the community...it's much tougher to get away with anything without your parents finding out. Bummer...