NACOGDOCHES, Texas (KTRE) - The City of Nacogdoches understands how important it is for residents to be counted in the 2020 Census; that’s why it has launched a number of committees and subcommittees to educate and motivate residents to participate in the census.
When community members are informed, they are more likely to respond to the census, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Through collaborative partnerships like this, the U.S. Census Bureau and community leaders can reach the shared goal of counting everyone in 2020.
“It’s really important that we start now to educate the public on the fact that the information is confidential; it’s locked for over 70 years,” said Amy Mehaffey, the communications director for the City of Nacogdoches. “It’s really just a way for the government to know how many people we have in the community."
Mehaffey also serves as a Census 2020 committee member. She said the purpose of the census is more than just reaching diverse populations. The city wants to make sure that everyone is counted.
“Our community is unique because it is a common misconception that [Stephen F. Austin State University] students are not counted,” Mehaffey said. “Part of the education, and why this committee was formed so early - or what feels like is early - is so that we can start the process of educating students to fill out their census form in the town where they lay their head the majority of the time.”
Stephen F. Austin State University’s assistant dean of student affairs, is organizing methods to inform students.
“Even though they may live here only nine months out of the year, they’re still considered Nacogdoches citizens, and we want them to be counted here and not necessarily with their parents or their hometown,” said Smith.
The information will be shared at dorm floor meetings beginning in January. Sub-committees are developing ways to reach out to other students living off-campus.
“We’re also going to do social media push. We’re going to do e-mails and we’re also going to do different student organizations that have a voice on campus,” Smith explained.
The effort goes way beyond a total number.
Mehaffey explained the reason why it’s so important for everyone to be counted isn’t just for the sake of population size; the census helps secure a city’s funding, helps with business relocation, and helps with representation.
One major change for everyone who will be counted in the 2020 census is that the form can be filled out online. The convenience, however, will fall short of populations missed by entry online due to computer illiteracy. Those will be the areas communities like Nacogdoches will be targeting.
The U.S. census will be tallied on April 1. College campuses are allowed to make their push in January when students return from the Christmas break. It is mandated by Article I, Section 2 of the Constitution and takes place every 10 years. The data collected by the census determine the number of seats each state has in the U.S. House of Representatives and is also used to distribute billions in federal funds to local communities.