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Making Students Count: College Democrats and the 2010 Census

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College students all across this country have organized rallies, concerts, forums, and block-walks for the 2010 Census. Students from various communities came together because they recognize the vital importance of being part of this census, a snapshot of America. On many of these campuses, College Democrats led these efforts to organize so that college students weren't left behind.

The impacts of the census extend far beyond a mere head-count. Over $400 billion in government funds are allocated based on the results of the census. All over the country, these resources go to fund public work projects and vital services that strengthen our nation. For college students, tuition grants and loan programs are structured and funded based on the amount of money they receive from Federal and State governments. Without an accurate count of college students, these programs will continue to be under-funded and under-utilized. Finally, congressional districts boundaries are draw according to new census data, and without an accurate count, each student's voice is late much more silent.

Youth organizers worked tirelessly to combat the misinformation surrounding census participation. While a census form can be a little intimidating to those who have never filled one out before, this year's census was the shortest in history. Even those students who were worried about sharing their personal information had nothing to fear. This year's census asks less personal information than the standard sign-up for a Facebook account. Filling out your census form was certainly easier than all the exams students take each semester.

Yet, almost as important as actually filling out a census form has been the profound benefit of census organizing. Across the country, College Democrats built broad coalitions of students of all walks of life. Students from cultural, Greek, and political organizations came together in an unprecedented effort to make sure that their voices are heard in the next decade. While they may not always agree on political issues, these new student coalitions worked together to serve their student communities. Of special interest to College Democrats, one of the most significant components of this year's census was the first-ever recognition of same-sex couples. This milestone was the result of previous census activism and a testament to the congressional response to our nation's growing diversity.

Beginning April 1st, dorms across the country began to collect census forms. College students answered their call to civic duty in greater percentages than before thanks to the coalitions being built on campuses across the country. Their participation has ensured better schools, roads, and resources as well as increased student financial aid for our families and us. Thank you college students for answering President Obama's call, "We can't move forward, until you mail it back."

 

Follow Alejandra Salinas on Twitter: www.twitter.com/arabenst