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Students Provide Boost to Evanston Census Count

Strong student census completion means $48-plus million to Evanston in next 10 years

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May 27, 2010 | by Wendy Leopold
EVANSTON, Ill. --- A 98-plus percent 2010 Census participation rate by Northwestern University students living in on-campus residence halls, sororities and fraternities is expected to bring in approximately $48 million in state and federal dollars to the City of Evanston during the next 10 years.

Every completed form is worth approximately $980 to the city. That means that the completion of census forms by 4,031 students living in University residence halls and 836 in sororities and fraternities will result in $4.8 million in state and federal dollars for each of the next 10 years.

The participation rate for Wildcats living in residence halls and in sororities and fraternities is at 98.3 and 98.8 percent, respectively. The overall participation rate for the City of Evanston, currently at 76 percent, is expected to improve slightly as census staffers continue to go door to door to boost participation.

"Because Northwestern students represent between 10 to 12 percent of Evanston's total population, it's vital to the city that college students residing in Evanston understand that, for census purposes, they are Evanston residents and not residents of the towns they grew up in and may call home," said Craig Sklenar, City of Evanston urban planner and the city's liaison to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Northwestern communication efforts about the importance of student participation in the 2010 Census included messages sent through e-mail, Twitter, listservs, press releases and Facebook.

The University allocated $2,000 in cash prizes for a competition among on-campus residences and fraternities and sororities for the best participation rates. In addition, administrators hired 30 students who worked 140 hours assisting on-campus census enumerators.

"Northwestern really hammered away at the census message," said Evanston planner Sklenar. "We couldn't have asked for a better partner."

Lucile Krasnow of Northwestern's community relations office, with other Northwestern officials and representatives of the Associated Student Government, led University efforts to ensure student participation in the census.

Overall student participation undoubtedly is even higher, Krasnow said.

"The University has no way to count how many additional undergraduate and graduate students living off campus in Evanston or how many students and their families living in on-campus graduate residences also filled out census forms."
Topics: Neighborhood