Originally published on Oct. 21, 2010, for The Daily Eastern News.
Shannon McNamara’s Alpha Phi sisters still honor her memory with fundraisers nine years after her murder.
According to an Aug. 20, 2001 issue of The Daily Eastern News, “The cause of death was asphyxiation, or choking, and police reported she was stabbed and sexually assaulted post-mortem.”
Carolynn Micetic, a freshman undecided major and member of Alpha Phi, said her sorority made all of the new pledges aware of McNamara’s story during their pledging process.
“They sat us down and showed us the book that her friend wrote, read from it and told us some background information about her,” Micetic said.
Micetic said there is a huge picture of McNamara in the hallway of the Alpha Phi house.
“It feels real when seeing the picture of her,” she said.
Micetic said her sorority makes sure every Alpha Phi girl has awareness of McNamara’s story.
“She was an Alpha Phi, but it’s still an important story for girls,” Micetic said. “It’s really moving. It’s reality. It happened here, and it can happen to you. She didn’t get attacked outside, it was in her own house.”
Every year new Alpha Phi pledges do a fundraiser for McNamara’s close friend Erin Weed’s organization called Girls Fight Back.
This year, the girls sold homemade cookies at booths set up in Carman Hall and outside of Lumpkin Hall.
“A lot of people put money in without buying anything; some people just dropped $20 in the donation box,” Micetic said.
The new pledges’ fundraiser was created and planned entirely by the freshmen girls.
Samantha Plaia, president of Alpha Phi, said the sorority does different fundraisers every year in McNamara’s name.
“We have one of our former presidents, Erin Weed, come to put on a ‘Girls Fight Back’ educational about Shannon’s story,” Plaia said. “The educational is a self-defense class.”
Plaia also said the kinesiology and sports studies honors club puts on a run for McNamara every spring, which Alpha Phi participates in and helps sponsor.
Girls Fight Back is an organization created to teach college girls how to protect themselves.
According to their website, “Girls Fight Back empowers women and girls to lead safe and peaceful lives through motivational keynotes and workshops at high schools, colleges and corporations.”
The organization is made of speakers, trained in self-defense, and talent agencies working together to produce live events in cities around the world.
Weed’s book, Girls Fight Back! The College Girl’s Guide to Protecting Herself, talks about everything that deals with self-defense, including what attackers look for, how to secure a home, self-protection strategies and more.
“During times of tragedy, the Counseling Center staff reach out to students and make sure they are aware of its available resources. We encourage students to come in for counseling in times of need,” said Chelsea Fuelling, the Outreach graduate asssistant at the Counseling Center.
The Counseling Center is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and can be reached at 581-3413. There is an emergency pager for crisis situations after hours.