Western Carolina University Chancellor Kelli R. Brown is reminding students, faculty and staff to not lose sight of the 2020 census, a vital once-a-decade national population count that may be overshadowed by the ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic.
Citing figures provided by the Jackson County Planning Department, Brown said that the census response rate for Jackson County residents was 10 percent as of March 24, one of the lowest response rates in the far western counties of North Carolina.
“I recognize that members of our university community have been focused on the impact of the coronavirus disease on teaching and learning, research activities and providing needed services to our students,” Brown said. “As we begin to settle into a rhythm in our new normal of online learning, telecommuting, social distancing and curve flattening, it seems an opportune time to carve out a few minutes to complete the census survey.”
It is especially important that WCU students who reside in Jackson County, whether in on-campus residence halls or off-campus apartments, be properly counted, she said. “Instructions from the U.S. Census Bureau tell us that college students should be counted in the county where they reside most of the year,” Brown said. “For the majority of our students, that means Jackson County.”
Census surveys should have been mailed to members of the university community at their permanent addresses. But most students receive mail at a U.S. Postal Service facility, and surveys are not mailed to post office boxes.
“With our students, faculty and staff now working in a primarily electronic environment, I encourage anyone who has not yet filled out a census survey to do so online,” Brown said. “Completing the survey takes only about 10 minutes, and it will help ensure that our county and our state receive the federal representation and support that we deserve.”
Census data help determine Congressional representation, local legislative districts, and funding for public services and infrastructure.
To complete the census, visit the website my2020census.gov.