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Census day invites awareness

With every new decade comes a new census. And for 2010, the state of Florida has unveiled a new campaign to promote awareness in one of the most traditionally underrepresented populations in the census – college students.

This Thursday, April the 1st is National Census Day. The day marks the general deadline for submission of census forms. But rather than being  a deadline, April 1st is a day of awareness that will hopefully encourage people to fill out their forms and send them in.

According to Fernando Senra, a spokesman for the campaign, ‘Stand Up for the Count’ is a branch of the Florida 2010 Sunshine Census aimed particularly at targeting college students.

“Our priority is to make sure students around the state know that so much depends on them [filling out the census],” Senra said.

According to Senra, the federal government uses the Census data is used to determine Congressional seats to states, to choose available community services, and to allocate more than $400 billion in federal funds to local, state and tribal governments annually. That money goes towards funding grants for students to attend college and for professors to continue doing research. Funds also go towards services like safety, public transportation and road repairs. If students fail to complete the census, the state would get less money than is needed to support some of these programs.

“They [the students]themselves have to fill out their forms where they live,” Senra said. “Parents are instructed in the form to not count their sons and daughters in college.”

According to Senra, the priority is to get as many people counted as possible. In order to do that, forms were mailed or delivered to every residential address in March. For college students living on campus, forms will be delivered in every residential college in April or May.

Because students are traditionally out of school by the middle of May, the census administrators are working with every college on an individual basis to ensure that the delivery of forms does not happen once students have gone home for the summer.

At UM, the Department of Residence Halls, is pushing for the delivery to occur in April rather than May, before students get into finals and leave.

“We’re working with the [Florida] governor’s office and taking part in a state-wide information distribution campaign,” said Jon Baldessari, associate director of the department of Residence Halls.

According to Baldessari, initial distribution of census forms will be carried out by enumerators in the lobby of every residential college at UM. Enumerators are the people responsible for distributing census forms.

For the University Village, enumerators will be posted between the office and the mail room, where Baldessari expects they will be able to reach many students. Following this initial wave of distribution, forms will be delivered into every individual mailbox.

“[Mailbox delivery] wasn’t our first choice because once you put the form into the mailbox, you kind of lose control over it,” Baldessari said.

This year’s census marks is one of the shortest ones in history, with only 10 questions to answer. Baldessari expects that it should take no more than 5 minutes to answer, and even less for college students.

“It’s important to get counted,” Baldessari said.

Census tips and facts:

  • College students living away from home should not be counted on their parents’ questionnaires. People should be counted where they live and sleep most of the year.
  • Census questionnaires are delivered or mailed to all residential addresses in the U.S. in March 2010. If you’re renting a house or apartment in your college town, you will receive a census form at that address.
  • Individual census questionnaires will be delivered to on-campus housing in April and May 2010. Census takers coordinate with Residence Life and Housing Staff to distribute and collect these questionnaires.
  • The 2010 Census questionnaire is one of the shortest questionnaires in history with only 10 questions; it takes about 10 minutes to complete.
  • Conducted every 10 years as required by the U.S. Constitution, the 2010 Census is a count of everyone living in the United States.
  • The first nationwide census was taken in 1790 by the U.S. marshals on horseback and counted 3.9 million people.
April 1, 2010

Reporters

Lila Albizu

Assistant News Editor


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