Students Return Census Forms in Low Numbers

After bureaucratic mix-ups delayed delivery of census forms to Dunster House for more than a week, house residents are now making up for the lost time by turning in their forms at a rapid rate.

"We have piles and piles of forms," said Carol Finn, assistant to the Dunster masters.

Census officials said yesterday that the response campus-wide has been less impressive. Harvard students' return rate of approximately 50 percent is lower than that of the general population, said Carlos Dominguez, district manager of the Census Bureau.

Dominguez said that so far residents of his district--which includes Watertown, Belmont, Cambridge, Medfield, Malden, Everett, and Somerville--have returned approximately 55 percent of the forms, less than the 70 percent that was expected.

Dominguez warned that students who do not return their forms can expect census takers calling them or showing up at their doors in order to complete the Harvard count.

Victoria Macy, assistant to the Adams masters, said she thought such a collection process would be "very disruptive."

Dominguez said that the task of counting University residents is "very cumbersome" because of Harvard's size and spread-out house system.

The last census, conducted in 1980, was the first to count student at their colleges rather than at their permanent home addresses. Harvard housing officials said last week that an accurate tally of University residents is important for Cambridge because results will be used in determining congressional representation and federal funding.

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