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Census counting on students

By:
Kaitlyn Naples
General Assignment Reporter

03/09/2010

The 2010 Census van was parked outside Conn. Hall last Monday to promote the Census and educate students about it. The promotion program that came to Southern is called the Road Tour, which visits each state school.
Anna Mariotti is a partnership specialist and said the Road Tour is a program the Census created to engage people.
“We’re trying to raise awareness and spread the word that the Census is coming in March, if you live off campus, and in April if you live on campus.”
Kelli Griffith is the Road Tour manager and said there are 13 vans promoting to hard-to-count communities.
“All the data we collect will be sent to the president by the end of the year,” she said.
Students may not be aware of what the Census is used for, Mariotti said.
“Federal funding that our state gets is determined by population,” Mariotti said, “so if we’re under-counted, we’re going to lose money we would otherwise receive for so many physical and social infrastructure-type things we may need.”
She added that college financial aid, loan and grant programs, roads, bridges, public safety, public schools and other things are funded by determining how many people are in the state. Students may also not know about the Census because the last time it came out, parents were most likely filling them out, Mariotti said.
“The college students are known as hard to count because in the past, we have had a very low response rate.” She said this may be because of the lack of knowledge about the Census or students who may live off campus, not knowing if they should be filling it out or not.
Aaron Washington, the director of multicultural affairs, “took on the challenge,” he said, to organize the Census to come to Southern. He said the Road Tour van was set up outside Conn. Hall because of its location — it is one of the busiest areas on campus.
He said the census not only determines the amount of federal money individuals and states are entitled to, they also determine the number congressmen from each state.
“It decides whether or not there is a congressman needed for a certain area,” Washington said. “The more representatives you have, the better for your district.”
Washington also said besides college students, homeless people and immigrants who are not U.S citizens but are living here, are hard to count as well.
“There is a team assigned to the city, or area, to go find homeless people and try to get them to fill out the forms,” he said, adding that teams will go to the shelters at night because they know the homeless people will go there to sleep.
“Today’s objective is just to build awareness,” he said. “This is more like a kick-off to build awareness.”
When the Road Tour came to Southern, its employees had prepared 500 bags full of information,cups, pencils and more. Washington said about 400 students had walked by the tables in a two-hour span.
One of the pamphlets said the form individuals need to fill out only has 10 questions and takes only 10 minutes to complete “to define who we are as a nation.”
Washington said the Census will count the number of students living in the residence halls. Commuter students can look for it in the mail, coming soon.

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