Census seeks to count students

As part of the “New Portrait of America” Road Tour, a “census party bus,” as David Broockman ’11 calls it, will be parked outside of Durfee’s today, giving out free Blue State Coffee along with information about the upcoming U.S. census.

All students living on campus in April are legally required to be counted in New Haven, not in their hometowns, according to the policies on Census Bureau’s Web site. Because Yale undergraduate and graduate students living on campus make up about 4 percent of the New Haven population, their participation in the census will affect the state’s representation in the House of Representatives and the amount of federal funding New Haven receives over the next 10 years, said April Lawson ’09, the city’s director of census planning. As a result, Yale students and administrators are collaborating with the city to encourage students to participate in the count, which the federal government administers every 10 years.

“Yale students make up one of the largest segments of the [city’s] population,” Lawson said in an e-mail. “So using Yale’s resources to get each of them counted is essential.”

Students who are living on campus in April are required to submit the shortened, seven-question Group Quarters Census, which is used by institutions like prisons and universities, said Faculty of Arts and Sciences Registrar Jill Carlton, who is responsible for getting all students counted. The University will then turn the information over to the U.S. Census Bureau.

By Lawson’s calculations, each person who completes a survey brings roughly $9,000 of federal funding per year to New Haven, out of $400 billion of population-based funding distributed nationwide each year. This money supports institutions such as hospitals and schools, according to the 2010 census Web site, as well as government programs, including Medicaid, highway maintenance and social services. The census also determines funding for Federal Formula Grant Programs, such as unemployment insurance, Lawson said.

In her role as director of the city’s census planning, Lawson convened a committee to bring together local government, non-profit and business leaders to emphasize the importance of the census and ensure that New Haven residents know it is easy and confidential, she said. (One problem previous censuses have faced is that people are often distrustful of the government, said Broockman, who is a member of the committee.)

In November, Lawson asked Broockman to form a group of Yale students who could reach out to their classmates to encourage them to participate in the census. This group now comprises representatives from several on-campus organizations, such as the Yale College Democrats, Black Student Alliance at Yale and Amnesty International, he said.

“This is one of the most real opportunities to make a difference for the New Haven community in the next decade,” Broockman said.

Currently, Broockman said, the committee plans to give general guidelines to the residential colleges and the graduate residential houses, which can then formulate individualized plans. Student volunteers will be required to help distribute and collect the forms. But this strategy must be approved by the Census Bureau, Broockman said, so the logistics have not yet been finalized. Carlton said she does not know what methods Yale used to administer the Census in 2000.

Students living off campus must complete the standard 10-question form, but they do not fall under the responsibility of Yale’s administration. Administrators will send e-mails to parents informing them not to count students as members of their households.

The “census party bus” will be outside Durfee’s from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday.

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