Constitution day, held every Sept. 17 in the United States, is a federal holiday meant to commemorate the adoption of the U.S. constitution and those who have become citizens. Its date is meant to coincide with the day that delegates of the Constitutional Convention signed the Constitution in 1787.
Three years later, in 1790, the first U.S. Census was taken under secretary of state Thomas Jefferson. The next countrywide census is currently scheduled in 2020, and despite its importance, few people understand the ramifications it can have.
That ignorance is what Communications Professor Marla Kanengieter-Wildeson and Associate Director of Campus Involvement Beth Knutson-Kolodzne hoped to dispel with their constitution day census dialogue.
“A couple of the professors here from St. Cloud state and myself…realized that this decennial census coming up in 2020 is essential for all of our students and our SCSU community to be counted, because it’s really important…and we wanted to make sure we were part of the effort in terms of being civically involved on our campus, and giving all of our students and the SCSU community involved in taking the census, being counted, and maintaining and hopefully enhancing the services and programs that- in part- the census will fund.” said Knutson-Kolodzne, highlighting several of the effects the census has on SCSU and its community.
“The census counts everybody in the U.S. But why do we care? Because money…The census divides up federal money and national representation in congress. Based on counting each and every one of us. And that means everyone” said Devean George, Founder of the George Group North and a speaker in PBS’s Census 101: get your civics on video.
Depending on the number of people counted, a state could lose or gain a seat in the U.S. house of representatives. The amount of federal money distributed to state and city programs is heavily dependent on census data as well. Things like fire departments, health centers, roads and schools all benefit from money distributed based on census results.
Lower census registration could lead to a lack of government representation and lower levels of funding for essential government programs.
“It’s important for our representation, it’s important for us to maintain that eighth district, it’s important for Pell grants, students and federal direct student loans, and so many other programs and services” Knutson-Kolodzne said.
Census takers do not need to be a U.S. citizen to be counted, a census worker will never ask for a state ID. Census workers take a lifetime oath of confidentiality and could face up to a 250,000 dollar fine or five years in prison for breaking it. Census data cannot be made public for seventy-two years, and cannot be shared with government agencies like the IRS, ICE, and the FBI. If you reside in Stearns county, or anywhere in the United States, you are eligible to be counted in the Census (PBS- Census 102).
Brendan Janostin is a Mass Communications major with with a focus on Journalism and a minor in Political Science. Currently, he is the news editor of the University Chronicle. He enjoys fighting games, Star Trek, political analysis, and watching bad movies with his friends.