‘She’s Birdie’ Event Offers Students Safety, Security, and Support
Members of the Charger community recently gathered for an event that offered students personal safety alarms free of charge. In addition to promoting safety and education, it also helped build a sense of community, as well as offer support for victims of violence.
November 1, 2023
By Renee Chmiel, Office of Marketing and Communications
Sadara Funches ’24 carries a new personal safety alarm on their keys. It’s decorated with a sparkly “S” that, in addition to representing “Sadara” also symbolizes “safety” – something that Funches is very mindful of. Thanks to the alarm, they say they now feel even more safe.
Funches recently received the She’s Birdie alarm at an event held at the University. They were offered to students free of charge at the event, where attendees were able to personalize the alarms. It was a fun way for them come together and do something together to foster safety.
“Awareness is big,” said Funches, a communication major. “We can talk about safety, and this was a visible action we could take. I wanted to support this. I want all students to be safe, and knowing we have these helps. Some students said their moms will now feel more at ease and won’t worry.”
‘Protection for students’
The University gave away more than six dozen of the personal alarms in a variety of colors including blue and yellow – a showing of Charger Pride – to students. Many were waiting outside before the event started, eager to receive their alarms. The small and portable alarms attach to one’s keys and feature a loud alarm and flashing strobe light designed to thwart an attack.
The event was conceived of by Ashley McDowell ’14, ’17 M.S. ’29 Ph.D., a success adviser in the University’s Center for Student Success. After earning her master’s degree in criminal justice, McDowell worked at a mental health clinic. She worked closely with clients who had experienced trauma and who wanted something that could empower them. While researching possible options, McDowell discovered the She’s Birdie alarms, created by two sisters who wanted to help ensure the safety of women. Intrigued, she got one for herself.
After returning to the University, McDowell thought the alarms would be a great tool to help ensure the safety of students. It was important for her to be able to provide them free of charge. She created a plan, which was selected by the Pompea College of Business and the University’s Women’s Leadership Council’s Leadership Philanthropy Fund grant program to receive funding. She collaborated with the ACE Women’s Network to host the event during which students received the alarms.
“We wanted to raise awareness of the importance of campus safety,” she said. “This is protection for students if they are alone at night.”
‘A display of Charger Pride’
The alarms – and the event – were also about community and support. McDowell also endeavored to raise awareness of the importance of addressing domestic violence, sexual violence, and to show support for those who have been victims. The event was held in late October to coincide with Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
As Chargers decorated their alarms with gems and stickers, they also were offered stationery and the opportunity to write a letter of support to loved ones who have been the victim of violence.
“This event offered students a safe and supportive place to gather and to celebrate being humans,” said McDowell. “It was also a way to foster education and awareness.”
While giving students their alarms, McDowell also offered them handwritten letters of encouragement. For Funches, the communication major, that letter meant a great deal. They say they plan to keep it, and that they are grateful that McDowell planned and hosted the event.
“The fact that someone who doesn’t even work in a campus safety position took the time to do this is amazing,” said Funches. “She put in so much time, and that means a lot. I took pride in personalizing my alarm because I know the value of it, and I wanted to show it off. It was wonderful to come together on campus for this. It was a great display of Charger Pride.”