72 percent of students on campus respond to U.S. Census forms

Over the last week, students at Williams College completed the Census 2010 forms for the April 15 deadline. According to Chris Winters, director of institutional research and census liaison, 1810 forms were distributed to SU boxes and 1306 were returned. This 72 percent response rate is equivalent to the national response rate for Census 2000.

Winters explained that this information is not enough to determine if the turnout for the College is standard among other colleges “because the 2010 Census is much more rigorous in how it counts college students than was the 2000 Census.”

Winters explained that Williams is among the first colleges in the state to be enumerated in the 2010 Census. “Amherst, for example, is being enumerated next week,” he said.

The U.S. Census seeks to count where people (including international students) live most of the year and collect data on residents’ gender, race, ethnicity and whether they have a temporary residence somewhere else.

The 2010 Census has a twofold importance for students. First, the Census determines a region’s representation in Congress. More specifically, Census data “inform decisions about funding for critical services in (the) College community, like transportation, public safety, medical care and road repairs,” Winters said. “Census data also affect college tuition grant and loan programs, and impact important research done by college faculty, students and librarians.”

In an e-mail to Winters, Kathleen Ludgate, regional director for the U.S. Census Bureau, said that university census have shown students to be “historically hard to count simply because many of them do not know what is at stake, and they don’t complete and return their census questionnaires.”

For this reason, the College made a concentrated effort to spread awareness about the Census and convince students to complete and return the forms this year. College Council sent a campus-wide e-mail reminding students to turn in their forms. In addition, the mathematics and political science departments also posted Daily Messages urging students to fill out and turn in their forms.