As most students on campus could probably tell you, Furman is located at 3300 Poinsett Highway. It is the address of our front gates, the address written on letters received by the P2X, the address of our academic buildings, and the address for all student housing buildings, from South Housing to North Village. So far as I can readily tell, it is the address of nearly every campus building, excluding perhaps the Furman University Police Department and Shi Center. 3300 Poinsett is all of Furman University.
Just after 2 a.m. on Saturday, one of my hallmates had a medical emergency. It was an emergency that required us to call 911, one that required paramedics to get to their room as quickly as possible. We needed to communicate our exact location to someone unfamiliar with Furman’s campus — and we did not have a clear way to do this.
As I spoke frantically with the operator at the other end of the line, she asked for an address to send the paramedics to. “3300 Poinsett Highway,” I told her. “Furman University Campus. Clark Murphy Complex. Townes.”
“I need a building number,” she responded. “What road are you off of? What intersections are you near?” Standing in our bathroom, desperately scrolling on Google Maps to find any semblance of an address or nearby road name, I did not have an answer for her. All I could do was repeat, “Clark Murphy. Townes. We don’t have a building number.”
The paramedics were eventually able to get to our hall—but only after we guided the operator through the turns they needed to make to get through the traffic circle at the entrance of campus, ran to the front of Judson to wave in the EMTs, and lead them through the maze of doors and stairways that is Clark Murphy. But in those minutes when my hallmate needed medical help, and the EMTs needed their location, we did not have a good way to share it. There was not an address we could quickly spit out or a clear message we could give to those trying to reach us.
In the wake of the emergency, I reached out to the FUPO dispatch to see what Furman recommends in an emergency. The dispatcher I spoke with recommended we call them in an emergency, and that they could share the GPS address of the buildings with EMS dispatch when requesting it themselves. But in emergencies, when instinct takes over, most students will not have the time or wherewithal to look up and call 864-294-2111. I certainly did not consider calling a third party when trying to get the emergency services here. What we all know to do is call 911 — and yet, the current Furman infrastructure does not provide a good way to clearly identify our whereabouts when we do this.
I am uncertain as to why Furman has foregone unique addresses for each building on campus. It could be an oversight, it could be a relic from when campus had but a few buildings, or it could be a decision that prioritized uniform aesthetics over actual utility. Whatever the reasoning, it is a decision that makes campus harder to navigate in an emergency, one that could well put the lives of students at risk. Clark Murphy is lucky, since it is at the front of campus, clearly visible from the campus entrance. But what about Trone? What about North Village K, or Blackwell or the Greenbelt? How do you direct an ambulance to one of these buildings while panicked in an emergency, when these buildings do not have their own addresses? How do you get that help where it is needed?
Furman has no lack of love for naming things on campus. Buildings, plazas, rooms, benches, even every other tree seems to bear a name. But the names and numbers that would serve the most vital function on campus — the names that could help identify your location on a standard map, the names you would share with an emergency service provider — appear to be non-existent. That needs to change. 3300 Poinsett simply is not enough.