Making Sense of the Census

Waco City Secretary Esmeralda Hudson said that the involvement of students in the Census is important, as accurate information helps to bring essential funds to the local community. Brooke Giacin | Multimedia Journalist Photo credit: Brooke Giacin

By Jordan Davidson | Reporter

Representatives from the U.S. Census Bureau tabled and handed out flyers to students in the Bill Daniel Student Center Thursday to spread awareness and showcase potential job opportunities for the upcoming census.

Conducted every 10 years as mandated by the U.S. Constitution, the census is designed to count the population and provide statistical data to the federal government about the people residing in America.

Waco City Secretary Esmeralda Hudson is the staff liaison between the Waco community and the appointed members of the Census Complete Count Committee (CCCC). Together, their job is to promote the census and provide accessibility to the groups of individuals who were undercounted in 2010.

“You complete the census for wherever you are living on April 1, 2020,” Hudson said. “The dorms are taken care of, but if you live off-campus, it is your responsibility to complete it for everyone living in that apartment.”

In addition to low-income communities, the homeless, undocumented immigrants, minorities, young children, renters and people who distrust the government, college students were also considered an undercounted population in Waco in the 2010 census. According to Hudson, this was because of a lack of awareness.

“I think college students don’t realize how important it is to fill out the census,” Hudson said. “For every 1% of our community who doesn’t complete the census, we stand to lose $10 million a year for the next 10 years in funding that can go to the homeless, education, Pell grants, early childhood development, roads and transportation and affordable housing … all things that affect students.”

Minneapolis freshman Sam Alexon said she is excited to be recorded in this year’s census even though she lives on campus.

“Now that I’m transitioning into being an adult, I am a contributing factor to American society. It’s important to me that I am counted because I will be out in the real world before the next census rolls around,” Alexon said.

Since federal funding is so important to the growth and maintenance of Waco, Secretary Hudson and the CCCC are implementing some major improvements to occur on the federal, state and local levels to ensure that more people in the community are counted.

“For the first time, you can actually complete the census by just going online,” Hudson said. “They will send out postcards and letters that tell you the number you can use to complete the census, but on the census website, all you need is your address.”

Another way the CCCC is promoting the census is by hosting “census days” and providing extra resources and access to people who may not take the census otherwise.

“What we are hoping to do is focus the digital campaign to those specific undercounted areas and then set up census help centers,” Hudson said. “We might host a mobile library van that provides wifi or internet so that people can go and fill the census out.”

In addition to taking the census, Hudson urges students to find other ways to participate.

“Tell everyone that you know at Bible study or a study group,” Hudson said. “Sharing it on social media is great too.”

Whether it’s through word-of-mouth or getting a part-time job walking blocks for the census bureau, Hudson claims that there are ways for everyone to get involved and make a difference.

“It’s a great way to not only serve your community, but also get paid to do it,” Hudson said.