A stellar institution of higher learning or the Gates to Hell?

This is the first installment in Bwog’s new column, Classical Whines, in which Bwog’s resident classics majors will talk about all things classics and give you a wine recommendation. In the first post of this series, you can read Social Media Editor Youngweon Lee’s rant about the Hamilton elevator.

Hamilton Hall, as the main headquarter of Columbia College, houses the Departments of Classics, Slavic Studies, American Studies, Italian, Germanic Languages and Literature, among others. It is also where the Admissions Office and Deantini’s Office are. In addition to classes in the aforementioned academic departments, a lot of classes that could count as general humanities (or not) are held in Hamilton; I’ve had LitHum, CC, FroSci discussion, and various French classes in Hamilton. I also know that even some econ, stats, art hum, etc. classes are held there as well.

So needless to say, there are always a lot of people trying to get places in Hamilton Hall. Yet, the singular elevator in Hamilton is objectively one of the worst elevators on campus. Seeing as the ground floor is actually the second floor, if your class is on the third or fourth (or even fifth, for the ambitious ones among you) floors, you don’t really need an elevator. In fact, if you are someone who is not disabled and you take the elevator to anywhere below the fifth floor during rush hour in Hamilton Hall, there is a special circle in Inferno for you. Sorry, I don’t make the rules.

Most, if not all, of the classes I’ve taken thus far in the Classics department have been on the sixth floor. That means every day for the past two years, I’ve had to lug my bag full of Vergil or Livy or Ovid or Homer or even Plautus all the way to Hamilton Hall, gaze longingly at the elevator which is inevitably far, far away (ex. heading up, currently on the third floor, destined by the Fates to inevitably stop at every single floor on the way up and down), and trek up five flights of stairs. The building is also always way too warm, regardless of the weather, so I always arrive to class a breathless, sweaty mess. This is such a pressing issue that the Fed, of all publications, wrote an entire article on it. If only I had Hermes’ magic winged shoes!

But seeing as the kids nowadays aren’t into paganism, we need to think of a solution not involving sacrificing a ram to Zeus and hoping that solves all our problems. On that note, I had an interesting experience last weekend on my way to the Bronx on the 1 when we were going to our CCO assignment. When the 1 passed some newly built Columbia athletic facility above ground, I was awestruck. It was a state-of-the-art, ginormous building, showing modern infrastructure at its finest. The kind of building that I’d imagine cost millions and millions of dollars to build.

So why does Columbia have money to build something like that for what is probably one of the worst football teams in the nation (or at least one of the worst D1 football teams) but not money to invest in a second elevator so that we Classics majors can suffer a little less on a daily basis? Does investing in some infrastructure for a stellar academic department that upholds everything Columbia stands for seem like such a bad thing to this university?

When I applied to Columbia (I was even ED!), for my supplement essay that asks me why I’m attracted to the field I want to study, I wrote about the names of the classical authors that are engraved on Butler Library (Homer, Aristotle, Plato, Vergil, etc. – the dead white men we love to complain about) and how it made me feel that Columbia values the Classics and the liberal arts, which I am very passionate about. So if Columbia loves dead white men so much, why doesn’t it install a second elevator in Hamilton for the people who are passionate about Classics with a fraction of the millions spent on a beautiful, huge new athletic facility?

Don’t get me wrong – I’m sure the athletes needed all that steel and glass or whatever. But in comparison to what they get, I don’t think I’m asking for much! I just don’t want to walk up and down so many godforsaken stairs every day. I’m not even an athlete! I’m just a poor little Classics major, always tired and completely out of shape. It’s also really hard to translate Homer when I’m completely out of breath from climbing so many stairs.

Deantini, I think (hope) you read Bwog, and you have clout and power on this campus. Please ask PrezBo for a second elevator in Hamilton Hall. Your office is literally right there, you must see suffering students (like myself) every day. Pity us!

A good wine to drink when you are sad about the Hamilton elevator is La Maialina Gertrude Toscana. It is Italian, as all wines recommended in this column will be, to honor the Romans and their heritage. Also, Caesar would want Columbia Classics majors to have a second elevator. Anyway, this wine is $13 at International. It’s a “very red flavor” but simultaneously light and acidic, with “not too many tannins.” Nunc est bibendum!

Hamilton Hall via Bwog Archives