Q: Here’s something I’ve always wondered about, especially now that Lindenwood University has grown so much in Belleville: When they conduct a census, how are college students figured in? Are they considered residents of the town where they’re going to school or residents of the town from where they come?
T.S, of Belleville
A: Looks like you can’t even count on the census to keep things simple.
I mean, what could be more straightforward than counting heads to determine how many people live in various geographical areas? But taking a census is fraught with pitfalls. In this case, guidelines by the Census Bureau don’t always jibe with the hearts and minds of students, leading to various answers to the residency question — and to some people being counted twice.
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Here is the rule census-takers were instructed to follow in 2010: People were supposed to be counted as residents at whatever they considered their “usual” address. The Census Bureau defined “usual” as a residence where a person lives or stays most of the time; a residence where a person was staying on April 1, 2010, and had no other permanent place to live; or a residence where a person spends more time than any other place they might stay or live.
Because most students go to college more than half the year, they should have, by definition, named their college town as their place of residence if they were not commuting daily from home or other location. In other words, had I been going to the University of Missouri in 1980, I should have told a census-taker that I was a resident of Columbia, not Belleville.
But as research studies have found, this idea just doesn’t sink in with some students. I certainly did not think of Columbia as my place of residence. For me, it was akin to staying at a hotel on a trip until I earned my degree and returned home or found some other more permanent residence once I landed a job. Even Census Bureau Director Robert Groves wrote on his blog that his own two college-age sons were not sure whether they should fill out forms at their school addresses or their parents’ home. If they were confused, you can understand why his bureau has found that some students are indeed counted twice.
It’s really not surprising, according to work by the Pew Research Center in Washington, D.C. Often parents pay the bills and list the students as dependents on their tax forms. Many students vote in their home town as well. A National Academy of Sciences study pointed out another emotional components: Many students still feel strong ties with their childhood home, and some parents consider it almost a family breakup if their child lists another town as “home.”
As a result, the 2010 census added a new question, which asked whether each person listed as living in a household sometimes lived or stayed someplace else. Those answering “yes” were given the option “in college housing.” I haven’t seen a study of results, but census officials were hoping this finally gave a more accurate picture of residency.
You might be interested — but not surprised — to learn that the rules have changed over the years. From 1880 to 1940, instructions seemed to stress that census-takers take down the students’ parental home address as their primary residence. But as the GI Bill flooded colleges with older students returning from the war, 1950 started the trend to note the students’ “usual” address on census day.
More than just a question of semantics, it’s a question that has power and big money riding on it. Census results have a major effect on political representation, federal money and demographic statistics. Many billions in federal money result from the census, so college towns are always looking to benefit. The rules are sometimes challenged, but court decisions usually have upheld the Census Bureau’s “usual” rules, according to Pew.
Q: I guess macular degeneration has been around for a while. When did the shots in the eyes become available? Seems like everyone is getting the shots.
L.D. of Red Bud
A: Yes, although it wasn’t called such back then, the telltale symptoms of this sight-robbing disease have been described by doctors for more than a century, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology.
In overly simplified terms, it comes in two forms. Up to 90 percent of patients are diagnosed with the dry form, in which yellowish spots known as “drusen” begin to form in and around the macula, which is the part of the retina that provides your sharp, central vision. Roughly 10 percent of cases progress to the wet variety, in which new blood vessels develop and leak blood and other fluids that destroy retinal cells and steal your central vision. It is estimated that 3 million Americans will be battling the disorder by 2020.
The injectable medications you refer to have been around for more than a decade and are designed to slow the progression of the wet variety. The first, in December 2004, was Pfizer’s Macugen, which works by inhibiting a protein known as vascular endothelial growth factor. VEGF stimulates the growth of those new, weak blood vessels. Given every six weeks, Macugen helped 33 percent of patients in clinical trials maintain or improve their vision compared to 22 percent in a control group.
Next came Genentech’s Lucentis in June 2006. A form of the colorectal cancer drug Avastin, Lucentis also works by inhibiting VEGF. About a third of patients in a clinical trial also reported vision improvement with the drug.
More recently, Regeneron Pharmaceuticals teamed up with Bayer HealthCare to win approval for Eylea in November 2011. A July 2013 study found that patients who were resistant to injections of Lucentis showed stable visual acuity and reduced severity of the disorder with less frequent injections of Eylea.
And for those with already damaged vision, the Food and Drug Administration in July 2010 approved an implantable telescope that magnifies images onto the retina for those who have lost some of their central vision.
What did the first Burma-Shave signs say — and when?
Answer to Friday’s trivia: During the Vietnam war, several herbicides were used as defoliants. To avoid confusion, a different colored band was painted on the barrel of each variety. The most widely used was the dioxin-containing variety in the orange-banded barrel, which became known as Agent Orange. But the so-called Rainbow Herbicides also included white, blue, purple, green and pink.