Smith Students Among 2.3 Million Urged
to "Be Counted" in 2010 U.S. Census
NORTHAMPTON, Mass. – In a public relations blitz that has been alternately criticized and lauded, the U.S. Census Bureau is urging Americans to “be counted.” Included in that pitch are direct messages aimed at the estimated 2.3 million college students nationwide.
Data gathered through the census, which takes place every 10 years, influences the distribution of more than $400 billion in federal funds a year for services such as scholarship programs, campus safety and public transportation.
Although the census campaign is gearing up at the time Smith and other college students are on spring break, the college plans to raise students’ awareness before they receive the census forms from house presidents on April 1.
On Wednesday, March 24, at 4:30 p.m in Weinstein Auditorium, faculty members Randall Bartlett, professor of economics, Floyd Cheung, associate professor of English language and literature, and Leslie King, associate professor of sociology, will discuss the importance of the U.S. Census throughout history. The event is titled “Race, Ethnicity, Identity and the 2010 U.S. Census.”
Cheung will draw upon historical examples from Asian American communities, he said, in discussing “why members of some minority groups fear participating in the census in spite of the idea that representation is beneficial.”
Bartlett plans to address the role that census data plays in ways as varied and important as the enforcement of civil rights legislation, the Voting Rights Act and the employment discrimination parts of Title VII.
Also, at 6:30 p.m. on April 1, in Seelye Hall, Room 206, the Smith Prison Justice Coalition will host a talk by Peter Wagner, a leading critic of the way the census counts prison inmates. Wagner, executive director of the Prison Policy Initiative, will discuss “The Census & Prison-Based Gerrymandering.” According to Wagner, the U.S. Census Bureau policy of counting inmates as residents of the communities where they are incarcerated instead of the places they lived prior to incarceration, has negative implications on modern American democracy.
The U.S. Census Bureau, which has been around since Thomas Jefferson was Secretary of State in 1790, these days embraces popular online social media tools such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to spread the word, particularly to Web-acculturated students. The bureau has also turned to simpler modes of communication such as advertising on drinking cups, to be handed out on campuses.