Welcome signs in Whitewater list the city’s population as 14,622. That’s right, give or take a small number since the signs were last updated.
When thinking about Whitewater, however, one can’t reasonably think of a homogeneous population of 14,622.
We’re a more diverse city than that, with demographics revealing a multi-ethnic and vocationally-split community.
Of this population of 14,622, approximately 7,000 are resident students enrolled at UW-Whitewater (resident undergraduates or graduate students).
This number is approximate, but the point is clear enough: Whitewater would be far smaller without the resident student population.
In fact, she’d be far smaller than some nearby towns, places that have a tiny number of college-student residents by comparison.
We’re one city, but not one group, and one of the groups we have is huge. (As a vocation, being a college student is overwhelmingly the largest vocation in the city. Nothing else is close.)
Some vital planning necessarily involves considering our entire population; some other efforts or analyses (such as the percentage of single-family housing) truly involve only a portion of the city.
The relevant population, in these cases, isn’t 14,622, but only 7,622.
The smaller number is significant, apart from comprehensive services, for the actual size – and presumptions – of the non-student population within the city: the non-student group is neither so numerous nor so influential as it might wish to present itself.
Consequently and critically, self-defined elites from among the non-student population are neither so numerous nor so influential as they might wish to present themselves.