The “friendly neighborhood designated driver," Macy Brown is turning a fundraising idea for her study abroad trip into a safety resource for female-identifying students on campus.
Brown is studying in London this semester – a trip made possible by the all-female rideshare service she created last fall: She’s Not Here.
Brown said as soon as she thought of the concept, she started coming up with name ideas for the service.
“I remember telling someone, ‘Well, if you’re at a party and you ask where your friend is — oh, she’s not here, she got a ride from Macy,’” Brown said.
The junior advertising and public relations major said she was brainstorming fundraising ideas with her roommate Emma Fuller.
When Fuller brought up the idea of being a driver for a rideshare service, Brown found the idea to be off-putting.
“I had never felt comfortable in Ubers and I knew that it wasn’t an isolated feeling for just me,” she said. “I know that a lot of girls don’t feel safe getting into an Uber or Lyft.”
Seventy-nine percent of women said safety is a factor in deciding which rideshare company to use, according to a 2020 safety report from the National Council for Home Safety and Security. Additionally, 44.6 percent of women surveyed said they would prefer a female Uber or Lyft driver.
Brown said this caused her to want to do something just for female-identifying students at UNC to help them feel safe getting home at night.
She said she started the service in September and did social media giveaways to help the service gain awareness.
“She really took the idea and ran with it, and she just kind of made a great idea out of it and it worked really well,” Fuller said. “And there were a lot of girls on campus who appreciated having her around and having that option.”
Gracie Tharin, a sophomore and frequent user of She’s Not Here, said she found out about the service through Instagram and friends who knew Brown.
“I just sort of messaged her one day. I was going to my friend's birthday party and I was like, ‘Hey, can I ride with She's Not Here?’” Tharin said. “And she was super sweet and the prices were pretty comparable to Uber prices — except She's Not Here is more reliable.”
In the fall, the rideshare service ran from 4 p.m. to midnight Thursday-Saturday. On-demand rides cost $15 and booking a ride in advance cost $10.
Brown said two of her next steps when she returns this fall are to partner with small businesses in Chapel Hill and also prevent any liability issues that might come up in the future by adhering to local regulations like the Passenger Protection Act. This North Carolina law requires rideshare company drivers to visibly display a license plate and rideshare logo.
Brown said a main priority of hers is to acknowledge that people who may be male-presenting can identify as female – something she wants everyone who is involved with the service, even after she graduates, to prioritize.
“As long as someone says that they are a female-identifying student at UNC and they can at least prove that they’re a student at UNC, then I am perfectly fine with giving them a ride,” she said.
She cumulatively raised around $500 for her study abroad program, but what felt more successful to her were all the people who heard about her service and decided to use it. Brown said She’s Not Here has also helped to serve as a community of girls that can lean on each other.
“We’re not alone. We are all Tar Heels,” Brown said. “We’re all here together to study and to enjoy our time and so, for me, I’m just trying to make that time a little more enjoyable and a little safer for the girls at UNC.”
Although Brown tried to find girls to take over the service during her time abroad this semester, she unfortunately wasn’t able to.
However, she said she is currently working with the UNC Student Government's executive branch and Congress to make the service a registered student organization in the fall.
“This is for my girlies and this is my little community of besties, and everyone is welcome to be part of it,” Brown said. “It’s girls empowering girls.”
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