Washington, D.C. - United States Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) led the entire Massachusetts congressional delegation, including Senator Edward J. Markey (D-MA) and Representatives Richard E. Neal (D-MA-01), James P. McGovern (D-MA-02), Stephen F. Lynch (D-MA-08), William Keating (D-MA-09), Joseph P. Kennedy III (D-MA-04), Katherine Clark (D-MA-05), Seth Moulton (D-MA-06), Ayanna Pressley (D-MA-07) and Lori Trahan (D-MA-03), in a letter urging college and university presidents to cooperate with the U.S. Census Bureau's recent request for directory information for off-campus students.
This letter comes after the Census Bureau adopted the policy changes requested by the delegation, in a letter led by Senator Warren, to allow colleges and universities to report on all their students-including off-campus students-using directory information in the wake of campus closures. Massachusetts's college and university students are currently dispersed all over the United States and the world because of COVID-19. According to Census Bureau guidance, students should be counted where they would normally reside as of April 1, 2020, even if they are temporarily in a different location due to campus closures.
"As you know, institutions of higher education play a crucial role in Massachusetts's economy and community. An accurate count of Massachusetts students in the 2020 Census is essential to ensuring that the Commonwealth is fairly and accurately represented for the next decade," the lawmakers wrote. "For this reason, we strongly urge you to cooperate with the U.S. Census Bureau's recent request for directory information for your off-campus students."
"The coronavirus pandemic has created unprecedented disruption for institutions of higher education in Massachusetts and across the country. We deeply appreciate your extraordinary efforts to keep your students, employees, and communities safe and learning during this difficult period. Although it is just one of many challenges created by campus closures, we want to emphasize that the disruption to the 2020 Census count could have far-reaching consequences for your institutions and for the entire Commonwealth. This year's Census will inform federal funding allocations and Congressional representation for the next decade, directly affecting the communities that you and your students call home," the lawmakers continued in their letter.
The Census Bureau's process protects student privacy by ensuring that identifying information is never disclosed and can only be used for statistical and research purposes. The process for submitting student directory information complies with the Federal Educational Records Privacy Act (FERPA).
Massachusetts Secretary of the Commonwealth William Francis Galvin sent a similar letter to college and university presidents encouraging them to provide this information to the Census Bureau. Colleges and universities have been asked to submit their information by the end of July.