Isla Vista’s Pardall Street was closed down last Friday, April 9 as it marked a stop in the US Census Bureau’s “Portrait of America” tour.
The Census Bureau reportedly targeted Isla Vista because of its low, 40-percent average return rate, and organizers warned that such woefully low return rates put California at risk of losing a seat in the House of Representatives.
“The event is about trying to get Isla Vista to return forms and to help the county and community,” said Derek Johnson, County Long Range Planning Director. “We hope to dispel myths about students and forms, and students need to be civically engaged. The Census is to count everyone in their county.”
The event lasted from 3 to 6 p.m. and included dignitaries like Congressmember Lois Capps, 3rd District Supervisor Doreen Farr, UCSB Vice Chancellor Michael Young, and Father John-Stephen Hedges of St. Athanasius Church. Capps reiterated the main message: allowing the state to be properly represented in Congress.
“California’s voice in the House will be gone for this decade if we don’t act,” Capps said. “We can’t and we won’t let this happen. College communities often get overlooked. Are we going to drag down S.B. County?”
Farr also emphasized the importance of being counted in the Census. She talked about tracing her own family history through the Census, and how crucial it is for future generations to use it in uncovering our own history.
“We want to include everyone’s picture in a new portrait of America,” Farr said.
Corporate sponsors also helped give residents an incentive to fill out their Census application. Best Buy offered prizes that included LA Galaxy Gear signed by all the players, Best Buy gift cards, an iPod nano, as well as other merchandise in their raffle. The Census Bureau also gave away free t-shirts that included the slogan of the day, “Count Me IV.”
The IV Tenants Union, a community service organization that offers legal advice for tenants in Isla Vista and the Isla Vista Community Relations Committee (ITVU) sponsored the event. Also, the Student Initiated Recruitment and Retention Committee were at the event to encourage minorities to be counted in the Census.