With videos: University of Michigan Census video contest aims to clear confusion about students and residency
Taking a pot shot at Ohio State University was one University of Michigan student's way to make his entry in a U-M 2010 Census video contest decidedly maize and blue, while communicating a message often lost on college students and their parents.
The message? Fill out your Census form wherever you're living the majority of the year - even if you're from another town, another state, or a foreign country.
Robert Lott, a political science and philosophy student, got an honorable mention in the contest - though his video has the most You Tube hits so far. Thanks to the line "Census 2010: If the process were any easier, they'd probably just call it OSU," the video was picked up by the popular fan site MGoBlog. National Public Radio did a segment on the Census in college towns that included sound from his video.
Confusion over Census residency rules leads to low counts in college towns, officials say. Adding to the confusion: About 10,000 students in university housing will receive forms later than everyone else, on April 1. Census response rates for the 2000 Census around Ann Arbor were the lowest in student neighborhoods.
So the Institute for Social Research and the provost's office sponsored a 2010 Census Video Ad Contest to get the word out to students about the Census. Winners of the contest received prize money and recognition at a ceremony today.
Melanie Maxwell | AnnArbor.com
The decennial Census is required by the Constitution and is currently under way; it apportions congressional seats and determines how billions of federal dollars will be distributed to the states.
"We're hoping in some small way we'll have an impact on student Census counts around Ann Arbor," said Lisa Neidert, co-chair of the committee that ran the contest and a researcher with the U-M Population Studies Center.Â
Robert Groves, the current U.S. Census Bureau Director, was the director of the U-M Survey Research Center before being picked for the Census Bureau's top job.
The U-M College Democrats had the winning video. In the way the politically inclined tend to do, they campaigned for the votes of members, using daily e-mails, Facebook messages and Tweets.
Joe Sandman, a public policy student on the winning team, said students are wary of any government form, thanks much to the cumbersome Free Application for Federal Student Aid. "There's a mental barrier to filling out the forms," he said.
The video addressed that hang-up by playing with the "10 Questions in 10 Minutes" tag line, highlighting the various things students do that take 10 minutes around U-M, where classes start at 10 minutes past the hour. Those activities included checking Facebook and waiting for a dryer.Â
Group members said the $1,000 prize will go toward the group's general fund and will likely be used for campaign activities in the upcoming election cycle.
Check out some of the contest's winning entries and tell us what you think about the videos in the comments section below.