Campus participation in U.S. Census low

As the deadline for postmarking forms for the 2010 U.S. Census arrives, the city of Champaign is encouraging students to fill out the forms, but early results are not promising.

“So far, only 23 percent of students have sent in their forms, so that’s low. That’s bad,” said Lacey Rains, Champaign city planner.

Rains said student response was less than 50 percent in the 2000 Census, and the city is working to improve that statistic this year.

In order to increase student participation this year, the city of Champaign held a promotional event Wednesday afternoon near campus.

Representatives handed out census forms to people in Champaign outside 512 E. Green St., along with free T-shirts, bags and other items.

Andrew Levy, Champaign County planner, said the event had a large turnout.

“People are taking a lot of our stuff,” Levy said. “We’re trying to reach the people that haven’t filled it out yet.”

Levy said many students who passed by the event had already filled out their forms.

Kelsey Rankin, junior in LAS and event worker, said she and her roommate filled out their census forms as soon as they got them in the mail.

Angela Ingrassia, senior in Media, said she picked up a census form at the event and plans on sending it in.

“I don’t think we actually got one at our apartment, so I probably wouldn’t have done it,” Ingrassia said.

Rains said at least 50 forms were handed out at the event.

There are multiple benefits to submitting the census data, according to Rains. One is an increased allocation of tax dollars to the county. She said each person accounted for brings in an extra $100 from the state.

“Tax dollars are allocated based on census population data. So if you don’t get counted, your tax money that’s coming out of your income is going to go to some other community,” Rains said.

She added that another reason census participation is important is political representation.

“Political seats are allocated based on population as well,” Rains said. “The state of Illinois, because of lost population relative to other states, could potentially lose a seat in the House of Representatives.”

Census takers will begin to knock on doors of those who have not responded on April 10, Rains said.

“All you’ve got to do is take a few minutes and put it in the mailbox, and you’ve done a huge thing for your community,” she said.