Can you spot the entrance?

Can you spot the entrance?

Tunnel Explorer and Potions Master Britt Fossum thought she had what it took to be the heir of Slytherin. She quickly realized her mistake.

Every Columbia student knows the legend of the owl nestled among Alma Mater’s robes, who will bless the first student in each year to find it with the title Valedictorian. But only a select few are party to the greater secret hidden in that statue’s beneficent smile. She sits in front of Low Library, and directly on top of the entrance to the biggest secret at this school.

Long ago, the builders of Columbia were not the most generous of men and wished to only admit pure-blood wizards legacy students. They shook their fists at the construction of Butler Library, which threatened the status quo with stacks upon stacks of new liberal books and frowned at the slightest alteration of the Core Curriculum. So they took it upon themselves to lace the bowels of the school with dozens of tunnels, allowing them to keep an eye on the organization of student protesters and sneak out of important meetings. Some say these tunnels even link up to the President’s House on Morningside Drive and Low Library, and that late at night, the eyes of the administrators glare eerily out from chinks in the wall and bathroom pipes.

The entrance to the Chambers of a Clandestine Nature lies under Alma Mater—no surprises there. The Entrance to the Chamber lies in plain sight. First, one must find the Owl and address it calmly in its native tongue. The author is still not entirely sure of what this tongue is, as she only knows parseltongue and addressed it thusly. Still, the owl will also respond to a few gentle pats on the head and an offering of some pastry crumbs. Upon receiving the offering, the owl will hoot softly and flutter its wings. This is the signal that the square of pavement directly behind Alma Mater is going to suddenly disappear and expose a chute through to the tunnels, so be prepared for a bit of a drop.

After a few twists and turns, the chute levels out into the antechamber. The tunnel system can be seen snaking off in multiple directions, left unexplored for now. The floor beneath is covered in the scattered pages of rejected thesis papers, and the air is heavy with the smell of decaying paper. Water drips eerily from the pipes. Directly to the south, a large door is guarded with elaborately carved snakes and owls. Various parseltongue passwords were tried until finally, the figures responded to “Please let me in, dammit.” The door swung open to reveal…

Nothing particularly interesting. Please go about your daily business. Do not worry about the tunnels beneath the school. Do not worry about being watched everywhere you go. There is nothing to be afraid of. There are no basilisks hiding in the walls. Everything is fine. Everything is safe.

I apologize to all of you. The Chambers of a Clandestine Nature have been opened.

PrezBo’s Chamber of Secrets via Shutterstock