By ANDREA LAYCOCK
The Census 2000 Road Tour Vehicle made a made a brief stop at BYU Monday to educate students about the importance of completing census forms.
Pens, pencils, posters and stress balls were handed out to students as representatives explained to students the significance of the census and answered students’ questions about the census forms. The vehicle has been touring the United States for two months.
“We want to build awareness, educate people and motivate them to complete the census,” said Kirin McInnis, a government partnership specialist at the U.S. Bureau of the census. “We also want to help students understand how state allocation of money is affected by the census.”
Federal funding for such needs as parking, transportation and housing will be affected by the census, as each person counted in the census will bring about $160 a year to Provo, McInnis said.
“It is so important for the students to participate in the census because 30,000 students at BYU could be the equivalent of millions of dollars over a 10 year period,” McInnis said.
The Provo government has taken a proactive approach to creating awareness about Census 2000, said Vern Keeslar, a long range planner for the city of Provo.
“In the last census, Provo had the lowest rate of participation in Utah County, so we want to reverse that,” Keeslar said.
By using an aggressive public relations campaign, the census bureau has been able to educate people about the importance of the census, McInnis said.
“A lot of people have been very surprised about what the census does. They are not aware that it helps distribute federal funding for such things as schools and roads,” McInnis said.
Provo’s approach to creating awareness about the census is very unique, McInnis said.
“The city of Provo has partnered with private business leaders, schools, Native Americans, Hispanics, and the President’s office here at BYU,” McInnis said.
Students stopped at the Road Tour Vehicle to find out about the brightly painted vehicle and have their questions about the census answered.
“Many students have come up to us wondering how they can get a census form and wondering if they needed to be counted here in Provo or where they are from originally,” McInnis said.
Students who did not receive a census form can pick one up at one of the questionnaire assistance centers located in the Wilkinson Student Center and in the Harold B. Lee Library, McInnis said.
“There is some confusion because students are not sure where they need to be counted, but students need to fill it out here,” Keeslar said. “Your roommates are counted as a household and there is a place for each student to participate on the form.”
Twelve Road Tour Vehicles have been travelling the United States to raise awareness about the importance and benefits of participating in the census, said Scott Sylvester, a member of the road tour advance team.
“We started the road tour February 15 in Denver and will be finished on April 15,” Sylvester said.
BYU is one of the many college campuses that the Road Tour has visited, Sylvester said.
“We have visited the University of Colorado, Colorado State, University of Montana, North Dakota State University, and now we are here at BYU,” Sylvester said. “There are a lot of questions about the census on college campuses that need to be answered.”
The Road Tour Vehicle is an effective tool for gaining awareness about the census because it acts as a travelling billboard, Sylvester said.
During their two-month journeys throughout the 12 census regions, the Census 2000 Road Tour Vehicles will visit more than 400 cities in the continental United States.
“When we go places we turn a lot of heads. The Road Tour Vehicle really helps us promote awareness about the census,” Sylvester said.