According to Sheprow, a flyer was circulated to each quad back in February, but it seems to have done no good. Even Resident Assistants and Residence Hall Directors seem to have been left out of the loop.
“Since the project was a group enumeration and not a door to door canvas, most RHDs and RAs would be unaware that the enumerators were here,” said Sheprow.
Again, though, that appears to have been a choice made by Stony Brook officials. At Binghamton and Albany, officials opted for the group quarters method as well, but both campuses made sure that students were aware that the process was ongoing, and even got students involved.
At Binghamton, census workers filled out basic information for each student on separate individual census reports, then turned to the residents to fill out the rest of the form.
“We then gave the forms to our RAs who went door-to-door over a 5 day period and had their residents complete the rest of the form, place it back in the envelope, seal the envelope, and give it back to the RA,” said Ryan Yarosh, the assistant Director of Media Relations at Binghamton.
Albany went even further, training their RA staff on how to properly administer the census themselves.
“We went to our students and conducted interviews with them,” said Karl Luntta, Director of Media Relations at the University at Albany. “We worked with the local census offices. It was a partnership.”
That idea of partnership seems to have been the norm across the country. At the University of Indiana, students participated in specialized programming conducted on campus. There’s even a student organization, Count Us In, that seeks to increase census participation rates on campus.
At Vanderbilt University, the census got help from campus clubs too.
“Student organizations like the Lambda Association and the Black Student Alliance had informational meetings to describe the Census process to their members,” said Erika Hyde, Editor in Chief at the Vanderbilt Orbis, a fellow Campus Progress-affiliated publication.
Even at nursing homes, residents get involved in the process.
“Residents filled out their census forms as an activity at the nursing home,” said Patricia Valle. “They had fun with that.”
These are the types of partnerships that the census welcomes, and that Stony Brook ignored.
“We welcome the support and help of any organization,” said Valle. “The census never turns anyone down.”
A lack of transparency here at Stony Brook has also led to some confusion. Some students who were at home during spring break said they filled out their parents’ census questionnaire, having no idea that they were being counted elsewhere.
“That’s a viable problem,” said Valle. But the task of informing students is strictly left up to the university.
“The only thing we are there to do is to count students,” she said. “Getting word to the students, that’s up to the college itself.”