Lawrence counts students among its blessings

By Amber Cox

In 2000, Rider resident students received U.S. Census forms to fill out on their own. For 2010, Residence Life will be handling the forms for the April 1 national count.

Roberta Butler, director of housing operations for Residence Life, said that U.S. Census Bureau workers will be coming in to help complete the count.

“In an effort to make it as easy as possible for the students, we will be the ones generating the list and providing the information to the Census Bureau in terms of how many students live here, their gender, their race and their date of birth,” she said. “The workers will be given a roster, again with the basic demographic information and they will complete the census forms. It really is a short form.”

There are no personal questions on the census so the workers will be able to fill out the forms without getting information directly from students.

“They don’t ask for Social Security numbers,” Butler said. “It strictly is the same type of information that we would be able to give on the directory, with the exception of the race question. That is the one that goes a little bit further, but all of the rest of the information is strictly demographic. One of the questions asks for their home address, which we won’t really need because they’ll count their campus address as their local home address.”
According to the census Web site, “in the U.S. Constitution, immediately after the words that establish the Senate and the House of Representatives, there appears (in Article 1, Section 2) the mandate to do the census every 10 years. The census was the tool to assure that the House of Representatives provided equal representation to all persons.”

It is conducted by a federal agency using taxpayer money.

“Based on past censuses, college students sometimes a) think they’re being counted in the parents’ home (not the rules of the census), and b) find they’re too busy to remember to complete the form. College students should be counted where they usually live, whether that’s in a dormitory or off-campus housing. ”

“In the decennial census, on-campus college and university residence halls, dorms, fraternities and sororities are considered ‘Group Quarters.’ Group Quarters are places where people live or stay in group living arrangments that are owned or managed by an entity or organization (such as a college or university) providing housing and/or services for the residents,” the Web site says.

Butler stressed that accurate answers for the census are very important for the university and the township.

“The more people that can show up in the township, or on the township’s books, the more resources the local and federal government will give to the township,” she said. “So it’s important that our 2,500 students that live on campus are counted because we do utilize the resources. We utilize their sewer and water. It’s very good for the township and the state overall.”

Butler explained that, to the best of her knowledge, the school will not be receiving the results.

“It’s a kind of polling saying how many people are in the general area,” she said. “We’re not going to get any statistical details. The other difficult part would be that they lump us all in with Lawrence Township, so they would give us the entire numbers for Lawrence, not necessarily just for the campus.”

Students shouldn’t worry about the process of the census interfering with their days. The workers will not be contacting them or going into the dormitories.

“We tried to make it as unobtrusive to students as possible,” Butler said.

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