Census Looks to Students For Assistance With Count





  • Printer Friendly Printer Friendly
  • Comments Comments (0)

As the drive to count the population for Census 2000 gears up this month, officials said they are turning to UC Berkeley students to help prevent undercounting in the area.

The Census Bureau is hiring workers to follow up on citizens who do not respond to requests for information by April.

The bureau estimates that 45 million people will not respond, necessitating the hiring of 500,000 temporary workers who will go door-to-door to get statistical information on the populace. The census has been criticized in the past for undercounting minorities and poor people.

Census recruiters said accurate counts are important because they are used to divide up districts for the U.S. House of Representatives. They also determine how much funding cities and counties receive for such services as health and education.

"If people don't respond, they don't exist," said Mica Calderon, manager of recruiting for the Census Bureau. "Services that are allocated to them aren't allocated anymore because they don't exist."

The Berkeley area has been a valuable source of census workers who speak different languages, Calderon said. This is important because many citizens cannot respond in English.

"A lot of people don't respond because they don't understand the language," she said. "If they know an area has 100 people that don't speak English, they will be able to offer (English as a Second Language). The bottom line is for their benefit."

Spanish speakers are especially needed as census takers, Calderon said.

One of the main hindrances to local census takers is that citizens are wary of giving out information about themselves, Calderon added. But she pointed out that the Census Bureau is the only organization in the United States that does not have to comply with the Freedom of Information Act, which requires public disclosure of government documents.

"Census workers take the information but never share it," she said.

One census recruiter who graduated from UC Berkeley also said the university is a prime target for recruitment efforts.

"(UC Berkeley students) can increase participation because they have the sensitivity and knowledge of the community," said recruiter Will Taylor.

Taylor said the bureau has already sought workers from Professor Alex Saragoza's ethnic studies class.

Saragoza said the current census has relevance to his course.

"We just finished speaking about the 1924 Immigration Act," Saragoza said. "The census was huge in setting quotas for people from Europe. It was a good way to demonstrate the use of it."

Saragoza added that some of his students may have been affected by shortcomings in the census process.

"There was a large undercount in the 1990 census, especially immigrants because they don't speak the language," he said. "A lot of students are sons and daughters of recent immigrants."

Professor L. Ling-Chi Wang, coordinator of the ethnic studies department, said undercounting has been a significant problem in the area.

"There were 23,000 to 25,000 undercounted in Oakland in the last census," he said. "They need outreach in the minority community, especially those that speak different languages."

More than 70 Berkeley-area residents have already applied to work for the Census Bureau, Taylor said. Applicants must be able to pass a short multiple-choice test that includes basic reading, clerical, numerical and map-reading skills.

UC Berkeley students who hold jobs as census workers have said the pay - often $15 per hour - makes the job well worth their time.

Tags:






Comments (0) »

Comment Policy
The Daily Cal encourages readers to voice their opinions respectfully in regards to both the readers and writers of The Daily Californian. Comments are not pre-moderated, but may be removed if deemed to be in violation of this policy. Comments should remain on topic, concerning the article or blog post to which they are connected. Brevity is encouraged. Posting under a pseudonym is discouraged, but permitted. Click here to read the full comment policy.
White space
Left Arrow
News
Image Student regent resigns after sex crime allegations
Jesse Cheng officially announced his resignation from his positio...Read More»
News
Image Pet shop may occupy planned Goodwill
After failed negotiations with the landlord and resistance from the busines...Read More»
News
Image Campus graduate takes new first steps
UC Berkeley's graduation day this year was symbolic for graduate Austin Whi...Read More»
News
Image Regents rescind part of approval
The ongoing legal battle surrounding revisions to the building plans for th...Read More»
News
Image UC spared additional cuts in budget revision
While the University of California escaped further funding reductions M...Read More»
News
Image UC Board of Regents wary of unreliable state funds
SAN FRANCISCO - Following the release of Gov. Jerry Brown's revis...Read More»
Right Arrow




Job Postings

White Space