UC Berkeley’s Undocumented Student Program educates campus students on US Census

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Partnering with the ASUC External Affairs Vice President’s office, UC Berkeley’s Undocumented Student Program hosted a virtual presentation Tuesday educating campus students about the U.S. Census.

Census community organizer and campus sophomore Griselda Martinez led the presentation, discussing the history and impacts of the census while also giving instructions on how to fill it out. During the presentation, Martinez also clarified issues regarding race and immigration status.

“We have a low turnout for Southside in returning the census — that’s primarily where students live,” Martinez said during the presentation. “That shows we need to fill the census out since we use so many resources.”

Martinez noted that while current student response in Berkeley is low, students can increase their representation in local government by submitting the census. According to Martinez, the city of Berkeley’s District 7 is the first “student supermajority” district to exist that aims to focus on student needs.

Martinez also spoke about the federal government’s Directive 15, which outlines the data collected by the census on race and ethnicity. Martinez said she feels this directive “restricts” racial and ethnic categories by allegedly not providing enough options for those who identify as more than one.

“There was speculation that the goal of the president was to draw districts based on citizenship. However, the census will not ask about your immigration status or that of your family,” Martinez said during the presentation. “Undocumented people are encouraged to fill out the census if they want to.”

Martinez also spoke about how the census allocates funding to general resources including hospitals, fire departments, schools and transportation, among others. According to Martinez, BART secured $38 million last year based on census data.

The presentation ended with Martinez instructing students on how to fill out the census, noting that the form can be filled out online, over the phone or through the mail.

“One of the ways you can help us as students is to stay involved in this coalition,” Martinez said. “It’s very important for us as students to keep this conversation going.”

Contact Shylie Ati at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @shylieati.