University to Students: Where You Live April 1 is Bottom Line for Census

Listen to the UVA Today Radio Show report on this story by Brevy Cannon:

March 26, 2010 — College students, like everyone else in America, should be counted in the 2010 federal census wherever they reside as of April 1, designated as "Census Day."

That involves some unique challenges for students living in dormitories, who historically have been under-counted. To ensure a full count in Charlottesville, the University of Virginia is deploying a variety of efforts to facilitate and promote student participation.

Since today's typical college student was in elementary school during the 2000 census, it's not surprising that some students are unclear about whether they will be counted in their parents' households, as they were previously. Foreign students may not realize that they too should be counted in the census, as long as they reside here on April 1.

To help clear up misconceptions, answer questions and provide information about the census, local Census Bureau staffers set up shop on Grounds on March 19. Weekdays from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., they man an information table in one of two high-traffic spots – on the first floor of Newcomb Hall (near the University Programs Council office), where they plan to remain through April 2. After that, from April 5 through April 19, they will be just outside the U.Va. Hospital cafeteria.

Students are hearing about the census from HooVision LCD screens across Grounds and in weekly Connections e-mails, with their on-Grounds messages echoed in e-mail newsletters to their parents.

"Filling out the census form is quick, easy and represents one small – but important – aspect of our civic duties," said Patricia M. Lampkin, vice president and chief student affairs officer. "If you are a student, then you will need to complete the form based on where you are living on April 1. Only in cases where you live with your parents full time and commute to school should you be counted on your parents' form. The census does not take tax-dependency into account. Instead, it is used to count individuals in a given area at a given time."

The Office of Community Relations has created a census resources Web page. (U.Va. Today reported last week on local census job opportunities.)
Students are getting the message, and helping spread the word. Fourth-year student Hunter Nobles has shared his Facebook event page, "Do Not Forget the 2010 Census" with nearly 1,000 students and friends.

For students living in off-campus housing, the census process is no different than for everyone else, explained Jean Wyant, director of the local Census Bureau office. One census questionnaire was mailed in March to each distinct mailing address. If multiple people live at one mailing address, they should all be counted on the single form, which should be returned as soon as possible.

For students living on Grounds, the process is different. Starting around April 1, local census staff will meet with residence hall staff, providing them publicity materials and census forms to distribute, explained Kevin Wade, assistant director of accommodations for U.Va. Housing. The residence staff will meet with their residents to explain the census and distribute and collect the questionnaires, returning them to census staff by mid-April.

-- By Brevy Cannon