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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

CAs distribute U.S. census to dorms

Published: April 9, 2010
Section: News

The 2010 Census was distributed in residence halls yesterday as part of a national effort to collect a population count of residents in the United States. Officials in charge of organizing census distribution at Brandeis worked on-campus on Wednesday and Thursday this week.

“The census folks are preparing packets for each student,” said Jeremy Leiferman, the Senior Director of Community Living.

Community Advisors (CAs) are in charge of ensuring that each student fills out a census. Some will distribute the packets, while others will invite residents to pick the packets up from their rooms. “The approach will be different depending on the CA,” said Leiferman. “We anticipate having all the forms from the census folks by [Friday]. Our hope is to get them distributed by the weekend and to get them by early next week.”

The university hopes to have all forms completed as quickly as possible.“This phase is a week or ten days,” said Rick Sawyer, the Vice President and Dean of Student Life. “Some CA’s will have an easier time getting the forms to the residents and back, depending on which quad it is,” he explained.

The US government sends out an extensive census once every ten years. The 2010 Census is one of the shortest in history. It is comprised of ten questions on topics including type of residence building, ethnicity, age, and gender.

Jamele Adams, the Associate Dean of Student Life, described the census as “the national accounting process. They try to use it for all kinds of things. It’s an effort to try to get a headcount on who’s here, demographically.”

Specifically, the data will be used to update government information about demographics in America. It will help policy makers, on the local and national scale decide how to spend over $4 trillion in the next ten years. Information from the census, will tell them how much money to allot to hospitals, schools, job training, public works, emergency services, and other government services.

In addition, “the ten year census is important because it can drive adjustments for representation in Congress,” Sawyer explained.

It is critical for college students to fill out the census independently from their families because, as Leiferman explained, “the goal of the census is to count the number of people living in a certain area.” It is important for the government to know if students live away from home for most of the year.

While the government ensures that all of the information they get from the census is completely confidential, there is still some concern about invasive questions.

“There are people who think that the census information is up for sale, and companies buy it,” said Adams.

Leiferman, however, assures students that, “The census data is kept extremely private.”

“Brandeis won’t see the data because it’s sealed in an envelope,” he explained, “If folks have concerns about that, I urge them to go to the census website.”

However, Adams says, students may have other worries about the census.

“There are a number of reasons why some people don’t fill out the census and they have to do with identity,” said Adams. “There are a number of folks that believe that the current categories, cultural categories, on the census do a disservice to America.” He explained that certain questions about race or origin may seem controversial to people who consider themselves American.

“A particular issue for this year’s census is the reappearance of the word ‘negro,’” Adams added. “Some folks have mentioned a little concern about the return of that word to the census. Not really being bitter, but not being sure if it will carry out its purpose.”