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Time to be Counted

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Southwestern partners with Census Bureau to ensure accurate student count

Southwestern has joined with the U.S. Census Bureau to ensure that students on campus are correctly counted for the 2010 census. 

The Census on Campus initiative seeks to educate and mobilize college and university students, administration, faculty and parents so that in the 2010 census, every individual is counted − once, and in the right place.

“Most students think they will be counted on their parent’s census questionnaire, but as a college student here, they are part of the Georgetown community,” said Dean of Students Mike Leese. “It is important for them to let parents know this in order to avoid being counted twice.”

All college residence halls and fraternities are considered group quarters and will be counted during Group Quarters Enumeration between April 1 and May 21. The census questionnaire for households is being sent out mid-March and is slightly different than Census on Campus. Students living off campus will receive their questionnaires by mail to their home and must complete them by April 1. 

Southwestern plans on having each RA give their residence hall or apartment students a questionnaire to fill out and turn back in. Each RA is responsible for their entire hall or apartment building and must check off if students have completed it or not. 

“Since the questionnaire is anonymous, students will only check that they have completed it so we know we have an accurate count to turn back into the Census Bureau,” Leese said.

Some students question whether or not they should participate in the census. 

“I just assumed since I still use my parents’ house as my permanent address that they would put me on their census,” said first-year student Annie Hutson. “If the census aims for an overall count, why does it matter where we are counted?”

These questions are asked frequently by students and some don’t know that filling it out on their campus could help ensure that local communities receive their fair share of political representation and governmental funding. Southwestern will be counted as part of the Georgetown community.

The City of Georgetown Planning Department projects that the city’s population may have reached 50,000. If Georgetown does reach the 50,000 mark, the city would have more local control. It could make its own decisions about federal grants for projects to serve low-income residents, qualify for more transportation funding for projects that serve low-income areas, get an automatic seat on the board of the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization, and would be able to control its own traffic signals. These changes could mean more funding for Georgetown in general. For these reasons, the city is urging residents and students to fill out the 2010 census. 

The 2010 census is one of the shortest questionnaires in history. The normal census has 10 questions, while the group quarters questionnaire has seven. 

The week after spring break, residence halls will be promoting and posting more flyers about the 2010 census. Although campuses have until May 21 to get their students counted, Southwestern hopes to have everything complete by the end of April. 

“We aim to have it all done by then because we don’t want to interfere with final exams and graduation” Leese said. “Once students start leaving for the summer, it would be hard to get an accurate count.”

For more information about Census on Campus, visit      http://2010.census.gov/campus/

For more information about the City of Georgetown and the 2010 census, visit     http://news.georgetown.org/2010/03/10/census-count-in-georgetown-could-hit-50000/

 Reese Cisneros ’10