Sept. 28, 2020
By Gillian Mathews
Time is running out to have your voice heard in the 2020 Census!
The census occurs once every decade to compile data that helps to determine how federal funding is allocated for the coming years and directs investment decisions for businesses, local government and foundations. It also establishes political representation by allocating seats in the U.S. House of Representatives and gives guidance on how to draw legislative districts even at the local level.
Communities that report low response rates tend to receive less access to funding for healthcare, education, infrastructure, public safety, housing and less political representation.
Alison Handy Twang, associate director of the Center for Civic Engagement, spoke about the importance of students making an effort to complete the census
“Completing the census is not only an important civic responsibility, but it is also an act of political empowerment,” said Twang. “Students are important members of our community and must be counted in order for our community to receive fair political and financial resources.”
In order to receive an accurate representation of a community, the census counts citizens where they reside for a majority of the year. This means that college students would be counted at their college residences.
The COVID-19 pandemic caused many students to relocate last spring, resulting in many to neglect to respond to the census. Twang noted that despite the chaos of last semester, students should still make an effort to complete the census.
“Students who lived off-campus during the spring 2020 semester should still respond to the census using the address where they would have been living in the spring had they not left the area due to the pandemic, even if they graduated or are living at a different address this year. Students who lived on campus in spring 2020 do not need to respond, as Residential Life submitted data on their behalf.”
Students like Jacob Whang, a senior majoring in business administration, spoke about the necessity of providing this information so students can be represented according to their needs.
“The census is important because it gives an accurate representation of how populated and culturally diverse an area is,” Whang said. “If there is a trend — whether it be ethical, political, economical or legal — census data could give an overview of the area and can lead to correlations as to why a certain phenomenon is happening, and it helps with funding.”
Whang also advised students to get involved and not let fear rule their decision to get involved.
“The least we as students can do is to be informed on what the census is and to not be afraid of it,” Whang said. “Everyone should fill it out because it does help the government figure out where to allocate funding.”
Miangaly Razafindrakoto, a junior double-majoring in economics and music, spoke about how she has encouraged friends and peers to complete the census.
“The most important thing to do is to get the information out as best you can,” Razafindrakoto said. “Mostly, I’ve posted on social media and talked to people face to face about whether or not they’ve filled out the census. I think it’s important that everyone knows what the census actually does and spreads the word on how pertinent it is to fill it out. It’s a really easy way to take action and allow your voice to be heard.”
If you have yet to fill out the census, respond today at 2020census.gov.
For more information on how to respond as a student, check out the CCE's census webpage.