You would think that with a campus as enclosed as Furman, transportation services would be abundant for students if they need to go off campus. But this is not the case.
Ample opportunities for campus and community engagements are indeed a highlight of Furman’s education. Not only do student organizations utilize outside venues for practices and events, but Furman also offers a surplus of volunteer opportunities in the local community. However, as a recent transfer student, I have not been able to take full advantage of them due to the lack of campus-provided transportation off campus.
I did not bring a car to campus because on a campus tour, I was continually reassured that everything was walkable and nothing was longer than a 10-15 minute walk from North Village housing, where I would be living. I decided to purchase a bike so I would have quicker access from my apartment to the academic buildings and the rest of campus. After the first couple of weeks into the school year, however, I quickly realized a bike would not suffice.
After attending the student involvement fair, the amount of off-campus events that would be difficult to take part in became especially apparent. The organizations — FU Gymnastics Club, FU Equestrian team, and FU Climbing, to name a few — required students to leave campus and go to another facility for practices. Lacking my own car and being unable to regularly drive somewhere off campus would limit the options of organizations to join.
Prospective students taking the campus tour were reassured that Furman’s SafeRide shuttle was readily available and easy to navigate through the RideSafe app. However, what was not emphasized was the fact that SafeRide only runs inside Furman’s campus. There is no campus-provided transportation that goes off campus, unless you count the weekly shuttle opportunity to Walmart. Forget the fact that students have differing schedules and commitments, this “perk” is only offered Sunday nights from 7-9 p.m.
Also during the campus tour, students were misguided when tour guides spoke on the accessibility of public transit through the Greenlink bus system. Currently, there is a bus stop located at Furman’s main entrance. While the bus does stop at Furman once per hour, students may not feel safe riding the bus alone and having to potentially walk a lengthy distance from the bus stop to get to their destination, especially when they want to attend Furman events or club meetings that occur at specific locations around the city.
Riding the bus to these events becomes even more dangerous when you consider that they may be late at night, such as FUSAB’s recent Fall Ball. Not to mention that relying on public transportation would also require students to purchase a bus pass, only adding to the high cost of college already. A Furman-specific shuttle could take students directly to the locations of these events along with other students.
Although only on the weekends, at least Furman used to offer shuttle rides to Downtown Greenville; however, this shuttle has not been operating since the pandemic. The weekly shuttle trip on Sunday nights is the only transportation provided by the university that takes students off campus.
Furman must expand its shuttle service to allow students to safely and efficiently get to off-campus locations of all kinds. Although having an enclosed campus has its advantages, Furman needs to better accommodate for the disadvantages of this choice, including the lack of availability to purchase food and other basic necessities on campus. The university should provide more frequent grocery trip runs, and should consider shuttles to other stores such as Target to better serve the basic needs of its students.
It is also unfair to expect students who do not own a car to find their own transportation when going to an off-campus, school-sponsored event or club meeting. Furman must improve transportation off campus if they want their student organizations to maintain their membership, remain diverse, and allow all students an equal opportunity to participate.
Furthermore, Furman must improve its transparency to prospective students when discussing transportation needs. A bike is not a sufficient solution for not having a car, and should not be advertised as such. It is not safe to ride a bike on main roads or Poinsett Highway to get to an event.
If Furman wants to fully live up to their mission of supporting diversity, equity, and inclusion measures, the campus shuttle service must be expanded for students without a car. If no action is taken to increase these services, many students like me will be left out of these events altogether.