Students and faculty gathered in the atrium of the Center for Environmental and Life Sciences to attend the New Jersey Complete Count Rally on Monday at 10 a.m.
Hosted by Montclair State University, the rally invited speakers such as U.S. New Jersey Rep. Mikie Sherrill and the New Jersey Secretary of State Tahesha Way to share why participation in the census is vital.
Since the last census, New Jersey has gone from 13 seats to 12. To prevent the loss of another seat, officials in the state of New Jersey are working to get the numbers in for more difficult-to-count areas.
Sherill made it clear that the census numbers also determine how tax dollars are split amongst states.
“New Jersey gets less back for every federal dollar of any state in the nation,” Sherrill said. “If we don’t get a complete count that gets even worse.”
That money from the federal government would then go back into education and public works. Tahesha Way stated that approximately $23 billion in federal funding is at stake.
Sarah Fischer, a junior political science major, found out about the rally from her job, working for U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez. She believes that the census plays a very important role in society.
“Without it you don’t get the resources you need for your community,” Fischer said.
Graduate student Katharine Mauro shares the same opinion.
“The census provides funding for the next 10 years for programs like SNAP [Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program], Headstart and other healthcare and community programs, while also determining our representation in congress which is super important,” Mauro said.
Speakers like Way also addressed the importance of where the information is going.
“I want to be clear that census information is secure and protected,” Way said. “This is about fair access to our democracy.”
Although he was unable to attend, Menendez provided remarks to calm worries over the information being used by other law enforcement agencies.
“The census is about counting everyone, regardless of his or her citizenship status or nation of origin,” Menendez said in a statement. “The personal information you provide when you complete the census will not put you in any danger of deportation.”
Montclair State was chosen as the host for this event to reach out to students to spread the word about the census. They are also hiring students to accomplish the complete count.
Assistant Regional Census Manager Lisa Moore is one of the people seeking out students to encourage others to participate in the census.
“We look at trusted voices [and] people who understand the community. We want them to work within the community,” Moore said. “We are looking to recruit and hire, but to also get the word out about the census.”