The UCR Counts! Census 2020 Complete Count Committee is a team of campus leaders who are joining together to ensure that UCR and its communities are accurately accounted for during this year’s census.
The committee consists of students and faculty from ASUCR, the Center for Social Innovation, the Office of Government & Community Relations, the Office of Student Life and Undocumented Student Programs. In an interview with The Highlander, Eric Calderon, the director of the transfer & non-traditional student committee for ASUCR and the educational ambassador for the initiative wrote, “The census is by far one of the most important civic engagement activities in the U.S. and is critical for our nation.” Calderon stated that as a committee, they are working closely with their partners from the UC Office of the President, the U.S. Census Bureau, the California Complete Count Office and the Inland Empire Complete Count Committee to host various information sessions and outreach campaigns to promote the importance of the 2020 census.
The decennial census count affects where resources are allocated to a community including U.S. senatorial seats and federal funds. Calderon stated that the information produced by the census holds three main purposes: political representation, funding and data. After each count, representatives are appointed depending on the number of people living in the area. “This means that, even though some cannot vote, they still have a voice that can be heard,” wrote Calderon.
It is estimated that each person represents around $2,000 of state and federal funding per year, stated Calderon. After the census, the government uses this information to build roads, schools and emergency services, as well as allocate student support such as federal Pell Grants and research grants. Census information also allows for better research to be done across the nation, added Calderon, and is used for communities to better prepare and plan for the future by providing insight on demographic and population trends.
According to Calderon, getting an accurate count at UCR is especially important because compared to other UCs, UCR falls in a hard to count community whose return rate in 2010 was 60-70%. Calderon wrote, “Hard to Count tracts are often locations that have high immigrant populations … older people, people who move around a lot, college students, people from the LGBTQIA+ community, homeless people, formerly incarcerated, among other groups who might be fearful or unaware about the Census.” An inaccurate census count may lead to a lack of representation or funding in a certain community.
Calderon acknowledged that some individuals may not fill out the census due to fears of their citizenship being questioned. However, in July the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against President Trump’s proposal to add such a question on the census. Calderon stated that whether or not this action was a ploy to bar immigrants from representing themselves in the census, “the importance is that this will affect every person and community for the next ten years. We need our people to be heard.”
The goal of the UCR Counts! Census 2020 Complete Count Committee is to have the entire campus fill out the 2020 census on the first of April. Calderon and his committee hope that UCR’s students, faculty, staff and campus partners can educate and motivate their family, friends and community to fill out the census. He stated, “It’s not only a regional and state initiative, but one that affects everyone across the country.”