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A Surprise on Campus

Tue Dec 22 2009
Robert Groves
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With two college-age sons home for the holidays, I’m reminded about younger folks’ views of the world. They’ve especially alerted me to the fact that my understanding of the census is not theirs.

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One son was surprised that the Census Bureau would mail a questionnaire to his off-campus housing. He thought that my wife and I would report for him, just as we pay his tuition, remind him to pay his rent, make sure he has enough money for books each term, and fill out insurance forms for medical expenses.

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The notion that he and his roommates would have to collaborate to fill out a single 2010 Census form was a shock. They don’t think of themselves as a “household.” There is no one roommate who pays the rent, who gets the mail, who takes on the role of the head of household. The roommates come and go on their own, rarely eating together, mainly gathering together on the weekends to watch TV sports. They leave the small amount of mail they get in their box for several days before gathering it up.

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My other son, living in a dormitory, never imagined that he would be asked to report on a census form.

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The 2010 Census wants college kids to get counted where they usually live (like everyone), and this means for them to be counted in college dormitories and off-campus housing.

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Our partner specialists on staff are attempting to reach out to colleges around the country, but my own sons tell me we have a ways to go to get the message out.

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Director Robert Groves

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