Created By: Brandon Inabinet
The Trone Student Center is truly the epicenter of student life on campus, with bubbling vibrancy of students around you if classes are in session. In who all it represents, this building will look impressively future-oriented, for both good and ill.
At the upstairs front door, you will see the plaque detailing the namesake of this building, David J. Trone ('77). Trone is the current owner of one of the most successful wine businesses in the world, who would have remembered the days of the "dry campus" (which ended in the 2000s), and specifically in the 1970s, whether the yearbooks should be destroyed because they accidentally showed a Coors beer logo in a picture.
Walking around the inside, you will notice flags, murals, and canvas prints of student life, accentuating the racial and ethnic diversity currently present on campus. Each is an important, albeit temporary, display of inclusion: the flags represent the current student countries of origin; the canvases display photography best capturing themes of diversity and inclusion; the murals brand Furman as a place that takes diversity seriously while having fun.
What about the permanent, built landscape? Upstairs is the office of Heller Service Corps. Named after Max and Trude Heller, a Jewish couple with deep Greenville roots, both individuals led incredible lives centered on service. Max and Trude fled Europe during World War II from Austria and landed in Greenville. Trude barely escaped Nazi brownshirts several times. Max became the mayor of Greenville from 1971-1979, where he was incredibly successful in revitalizing downtown Greenville. He also completely desegregated all municipal departments and commissions in the city. Max lost his bid for governor because of an anti-Semitic remark by his opponent in the last days of the campaign. Despite this, he never turned bitter, and instead worked even harder to help bring advantage to the disadvantaged in the local area.
Stories like these give historical meaning to contemporary student activities. Perhaps the positive past should enter this "new" space as well, along with the expectation that Furman will become more diverse. This may create the not-so-subtle reminder that the struggles of the past endure today as we grow more inclusive.
Student Author: Carter Gravitt
This point of interest is part of the tour: Hidden Histories of Furman University: Lake Walk