Throughout the month of April, local government officials and volunteers focused their efforts on increasing awareness and participation within Tompkins County in the U.S. Census. More than 3,000 calls, 2,000 quarter cards and 600 census T-shirts were distributed throughout the county, all to increase the census response rate of county residents.After these initiatives, the percentage of participation in the Collegetown area increased to around 50 percent, a 10 percent percent increase in the response rate from before the publicity efforts began, according to Nathan Shinagawa ’05 (D-4th Ward). This is a significant increase in participation figures for an area that has historically had the lowest rates in Tompkins County.“There’s been a big push [in raising awareness], and a lot of things that are happening differently [this year],” Shinagawa said.So far, Tompkins County has a participation rate of 72 percent, while the Town of Ithaca is slightly higher at a 74 percent participation rate, according to the census website. Both of these figures, as well as the 69-percent national average of participation, are significantly higher than that of New York State as a whole, which lags at 64 percent.The promotional efforts made in the last month appear to have increased motivation among student residents to fill out the forms.“Receiving and sending mail is a breeze; the main issue lies in whether or not you are willing to take the time to fill the form out,” said Kevin Tang ’10, a resident of Collegetown.Tang said that his roommate, who he described as a responsible person who is actively supporting census participation among Taiwanese students, made sure that the census forms were filled out for the residents in their apartment.“If there’s someone in your apartment [who] really cares about Census, it gets done. Otherwise, I’m sure there are people who just let it slide,” Tang said. Although Apr. 16, the deadline to mail back forms, has already passed, county residents are still urged to turn in their forms as soon as possible, as efforts to raise participation rates are continuing.On Apr. 24, census workers are expected to begin visiting residents throughout the county who have not yet turned in their census forms, and will make several attempts to make contact if necessary. Though this process generally takes place starting in late May and carrying into June and July, the Census Committee is trying to begin the process earlier. The Collegetown area in particular will be targeted in an attempt to contact those who will be away for the summer prior to their departure, according to Carol Chock ’72 (D-3rd Ward), a member of the Census Committee.“[The census-taking process] was not designed around the academic year; there were other considerations, and the majority of people in the nation aren’t college students,” Chock said.By sending enumerators to contact residents starting before the academic year ends, the Census Committee hopes to further raise participation rates throughout the county in this year’s Census.
Original Author: Cindy Huynh