U. ramps up census efforts
Results determines allocation of billions of dollars of federal spending, voting districts
April 7, 2010, 3:54 am·
While the 2010 Census deadline has not yet passed, Penn is campaigning for students who live both on and off campus to fill out and submit their forms by the end of the week.
This week was specifically chosen because it is the “best window of opportunity before Fling, Penn Relays, … move-out, commencement” and other events that can distract students from completing the forms, said College Houses and Academic Services Director for Communications Sue Smith.
Census forms are due nationwide on May 14, Smith said.
Penn’s Office of Government and Community Affairs has promoted census participation on campus through posters and presentations over the last two months, according to Assistant Vice President of Community Relations Glenn Bryan.
Bryan added that student participation is encouraged because federal aid allocated using census results “benefits the community, benefits the city, benefits Penn.”
In order to further spread the message to students about filling out census forms, a census rally will host Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter in the Lower Quad at 4:30 p.m. today.
Nutter will also visit his former dorm room in Riepe College House to encourage current residents to complete their forms.
The University is also facilitating student involvement within college houses. Smith said forms have been distributed to residents’ mailboxes in Penn’s college houses.
Fifteen boxes — including tall blue boxes and white desktop boxes — are located throughout the college houses and Sansom Place East and West, where students can drop off their completed forms. All students, including non-American citizens, must fill out forms.
“The tricky thing is that we are basically landlords for 6,000 people,” Smith said. “That presents a real challenge for the Census Bureau.”
Smith explained that only Datrose, Penn’s licensed sub-contractor, can access student mailboxes, thus posing logistical problems for census workers to follow up on an individual basis.
College houses give census workers labels with mailbox numbers to affix onto census forms. In order to ensure security, Penn does not distribute student names or addresses.
Census collections for students living in Greek housing will follow a different procedure.
According to Beth Schnitman-Malm, who is heading census efforts for the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Affairs, chapter house managers will distribute forms to students and then collect and return completed forms to her. Schnitman-Malm will then give them to census enumerators.
Penn also sent postcards to parents, reminding them not to count their children who are full-time Penn students living on campus.
Census forms were delivered in March to off-campus residences. Census workers will visit individual residences before the end of July if no form is returned.
Bryan emphasized the goal of “100 percent participation.”
He said the “big issue is follow-up and follow-through,” adding that over the next two weeks, before the national deadline, “we’ll still be campaigning.”