SGB offers prizes for students who complete census by Sept. 30 deadline


Wu Caiyi | Senior Staff Photographer

Student Government Board will raffle off 25 $100 gift cards to the campus bookstore for people living off campus who respond to the Census by the Sept. 30 deadline.

By Rebecca Johnson, News Editor

The Student Government Board is offering $2,500 in gift cards to the University Store on Fifth for students who complete the U.S. census by the new Sept. 30th self-reporting deadline.

The Trump administration moved up the census self-reporting deadline by four weeks from Oct. 31 to Sept. 30 to allow the U.S. Census Bureau to “accelerate the completion of data collection and apportionment counts” by the statutory Dec. 31 deadline. These last-minute changes risk the accurate count of every individual living in the United States — the Census Bureau’s once-per-decade task.

Tyler Viljaste, the SGB vice president and chief of cabinet, said he hopes the monetary incentive will reward students who already filled out the census and encourage those who have yet to fill it out. SGB is raffling out 25 $100 gift cards for students who fill out the Census Raffle Survey.

We’re hoping this rewards students who were proactive and filled out the census, but also incentivizes the remainder who haven’t filled out the census,” Viljaste, a junior politics and philosophy and finance double major, said. “It only takes a few minutes.”

Student participation is necessary to attain the most accurate population count possible, the results of which influence the direction of federal funding. This funding impacts aid programs such as Pell Grants as well as funding toward services such as mental health and school safety.

According to the Bureau, only 62.4% of Pittsburgh households have responded to the 2020 census as of Tuesday. Individuals can respond online, by phone or by mail to ensure they are counted in the right place.

Viljaste said he also hopes this program will help make students who may have incorrectly completed the census aware of the error. According to the Census Bureau’s Official Residence Criteria, college students should be counted at their “usual residence” on April 1 or where they live and sleep “most of the time.” That means college students should be counted at their college address even if they were at home on April 1.

Students who live in residence halls, sorority and fraternity houses or off-campus University housing will be counted by Pitt, though. As a result, the raffle is only available to students who lived off campus last semester and already filled out the Census.

Viljaste added that completing the census is important for Pitt students and the Oakland community.

The University draws a lot of their federal funding from the fact that we have a complete and accurate count of people in Oakland,” Viljaste said. “Student responses are important to ensure that the 2020 census has a complete and accurate count.”