Riverside, California –
With the National Census Day fast approaching, the University of California is asking its students to be counted. UC Riverside student and Center for Social Innovation Student Assistant, Eric Calderon, is well aware that his classmates, their lives suddenly upended by the coronavirus, may not have the U.S. census at the top of their minds.
The article notes how Calderon and the Center for Social Innovation’s Associate Director, Marlenee Blas Pedral, are working to ensure that all students are counted. “Every person who is counted is another person who helps us get representation in Congress and thousands of dollars in funding for our communities and the programs we rely upon,” said Calderon, who is leading outreach efforts to students on his campus. The census affects many things that impact students directly, notes Calderon, from the allocation of federal funding for Pell Grants and work study to investment in research and labs.
"This count is the backbone of our democracy,” said Calderon. “How are we going to know, should we build another hospital, should we build another school, should we build a park, unless we know who’s here?”
Even if you are graduating and won’t be going back to campus, you should still fill in the census based on where you lived while at school, according to Marlenee Blas Pedral, a faculty member with UC Riverside’s Center for Social Innovation, which is looking to increase civic engagement in the Inland Empire. “You may graduate, but another student is going to come and take your place. We want to make sure the resources to serve them are here.”
"To provide and locate services that will effectively serve our residents, we need to know who is here,” said Blas Pedral. Understanding the demographics of our communities and of our state helps create a California that works for everyone, she said.
"It doesn’t matter if you’re documented or undocumented. It doesn’t matter what views you have or who you support,” Calderon said. “You are embedded in this nation. This is your chance to be recognized.”