An informed public is an empowered public

Safety is an issue on any campus in the U.S. and abroad. But, what do you know about the person sitting beside you?

This week, someone asked about Tech’s policies regarding finding out who sex offenders are in the area, and if they attend the University.
I did a little research, and found that the only policy for any convicted sex offender in the state of Tennessee is that they must submit, or update a sexual offender registration/monitoring form and deliver it to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation in Nashville.
If you go to the Tech police page, you can find links to look up registered offenders in the area.
The main problem; however, isn’t where they live. It’s why haven’t I been notified that the person beside me in the library, in class, even in my dorm room, or the apartment next door is a convicted sex offender? I need to do what ever is necessary to stay safe and be aware of my surroundings.
I bring this up, because I feel that sometimes we, as a whole, tend to think that the person sitting beside us is just like us and all they want is to get out of school and land a well-paying job, pay off school, maybe get married and start a family, and nothing bad could ever happen to them.
WRONG! If we don’t pay attention to how someone is acting against the “norm” and ignore all the signs, we are the ones who pay for it.
Tech’s police page encourages people to report crimes on campus, including sexual assault. The problem here is that too many are afraid to say anything.
We have a right to know these types of things. Sex offenders don’t have total rights to privacy via FERPA laws, like the rest of us, so why isn’t it something posted in the open so that we can easily find the information we need?

I am not blaming Tech police for this lack of easily accessed information, but in reality I am blaming myself. We can’t solely depend on someone else making us aware of this potential danger, but we can help others around us recognize how real this danger is.
We have to wake up and stop just smelling the roses, we need to pay attention to what is happening around us.
On our snug little campus, we tend think nothing bad is going to happen to us, after all this is Cookeville right? This is where we are very wrong.
Be aware of who you surround yourself with, and pay attention to things out of the ordinary. Someday, you might just save someone’s life instead of silently standing by.
An informed public is an empowered public.