Students question claiming Ames residency for census

Jacqui Becker

Though city officials recommend it and the rules require it, some ISU students said they have no plans to declare their official city of residency as Ames in the upcoming federal census.

“It seems as if some people are getting double benefits,” said Stephanie Holeman, graduate student in computer engineering. “If government recognizes us for the majority of the year, why doesn’t the university recognize it on campus?”

Census 2000 Residence Rules state that students fall under the category of “usual residents.” This simply means that since students live and sleep in Ames for a majority of the year, they are considered Ames residents regardless of where they are registered to vote or their immigration status.

Other than the rule, Willis Goudy, director of ISU Census Services, said there are numerous benefits for students to declare Ames as their residence.

With Iowa State’s student population, combined with Ames’s population, the population of the city might exceed 50,000 in this year’s census, Goudy said.

“Many companies are attracted to metropolitans,” said Goudy, professor of sociology. “They are in the news more often, and businesses are more likely to come to a metro area.”

Goudy said besides attracting businesses, breaking the 50,000 barrier could draw more funding for public works.

“Federal funds are distributed by number of residents living in area. Roads use funds, for example, and other funds use census counts,” he said. “The larger the counter, the higher that return comes.”

And any additional federal money taken in probably will not take years to get its way to Ames, said Herman Quirmbach, Ames city councilman, so a freshman declaring Ames as his or her residency in the spring could see the effects by the time he or she is getting ready to graduate.

“It certainly doesn’t take four years for the count to be evaluated,” said Quirmbach, associate professor of economics. “The federal funding will kick in sooner than that.”

He said the census is important for non-financial reasons as well.

“The census goes well beyond a simple head count,” he said. “It studies where the U.S. population is going and living conditions of the area. It is not a matter of option or choice. You have to report it legally. If they’re here, they’re here. The census deserves a truthful answer.”

But Brenton Pyle, senior in mathematics, said since he soon will be leaving the city, he does not see why he should have to declare it his residence.

“Ames is using us. We’re only here for a few years. Others will be replacing us, but still,” Pyle said. “I’m an Ames resident right now, but I’m a little upset that we’re getting pushed to be Ames residents.”

Not every ISU student has a problem with declaring residency in Ames, however.

Lori Palmer, undeclared freshman, said she thinks Ames is her home right now.

“I live here nine months out of the year and give this town business,” she said. “I think students at ISU should be censused in Ames.”

Kirk Kroeger, sophomore in art and design, said since he has no plans to return to his hometown of Eldridge, he would declare Ames his residence.

“I think that we should census in Ames,” Kroeger said. “I don’t plan on going back to where my parents live, even after school is out.”

Census 2000 will begin polling the Ames community in March.