Sept. 1, 2009
SHSU Media Contact: Jennifer Gauntt
The 2010 census will soon have a noticeable impact on the lives of Bearkats on and off campus.
Over the next few months, census representatives will be increasingly visible on campus—at tailgate parties, working with student organizations, offering job opportunities and possibly even affecting class assignments—as they prepare for the official count, scheduled April 1, 2010.
“The main goal is to make sure students understand what the census is, when it’s coming up and when they get the form to make sure to send it in because some federal assistance the college and community receive is based on census numbers,” said Charlotte Meadows, census representative for campus.
Questionnaires for the 2010 census will be handed out by resident managers in March to students who live on campus. They also will be mailed to students who live off campus, but that can be problematic because it falls during Spring Break, Meadows said.
The forms will include 10 questions on things such as age, birth date and ethnicity.
“The purpose is to get a picture of the demographics, who lives where,” Meadows said. “We want to count all of the people who live in Huntsville, whether they are documented workers or undocumented workers; it doesn’t matter.”
This is important because not only could Texas receive as many as three more representatives in Washington, D.C., based on anticipated census data, but the population helps determine how much of the $400 billion dollars “up for grabs” annually from the federal government might be available to the state for things like schools, roads, fire departments, police departments and libraries, Meadows said.
“Pell Grants are from the federal government, and then of course student loans and other grants; that money actually comes from the census figure results and this $400 billion that’s available every year,” she said. “Also, the more money the college gets, the better dorm facilities there could be, the better food services, the nicer the campus—new buildings, new equipment; the college can apply for grants that help with these things from that $400 billion.”
They will also be working with mass communication faculty members to have students write commercial ads for campus outlets; looking to hire students to help go door-to-door for those who don’t return the bar-coded forms and get estimates of people who live on campus, in the prisons and other places such as assisted living facilities; and serve as volunteers at “be counted sites” to help dispense census forms and with translations for those who don’t speak English.
During the last census, Texas was estimated to have an approximate 64 percent respond rate, as determined by the bar codes on the forms. Meadows said for each percentage point that does not respond the state loses a million and a half dollars in funding.
“They just had a news story on this in Houston. They figure Houston did not count about a million Hispanics, which resulted in over $10 million that was lost,” she said. “So in Texas (in 2000, based on a 64 percent respond rate), $36 million was lost per year. There’s a lot that could have been done with $36 million.
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