By day, Hamilton Hall is an austere institution of higher learning. With a cornerstone laid in 1905 and a design by McKim, Mead, and White, the building has long served as the home of Columbia's famed Core Curriculum.
But what goes down in Hamilton after dark? Nocturnal admissions from those lurking around after hours might give the impression that Hamilton ranks just after the Butler stacks and Mudd roof for sexy Columbia spaces.
While several student clubs meet in Hamilton, only one will teach you the fine art of flogging and rope play. Conversio Virium, Columbia's student BDSM club, holds its weekly meetings in Hamilton.
"We usually have speakers who are active in the scene around New York," Jamie, CC '08 and club president, who asked not to be identified by her last name, said. "They go over techniques, safety ... There are demonstrations. For the rope bondage, they'll actually bring in ropes and show us how to tie basic knots."
No spanking actually occurs on the premises. Above all else, Conversio Virium promotes safety and is "officially a discussion group," Jamie said.
They do, nonetheless, put the classroom space to use. "The Lit Hum rooms are especially good. They're bigger, usually, and have space for ... fun things. Once, this guy came in to do a lecture on balloon fetishes, and we had this Lit Hum room that suddenly turned into a balloon frenzy with people chasing balloons everywhere," Jamie said.
Perhaps this adventurous spirit is what inspired two other students to get in touch with Hamilton's sexy side. One day last year, Anna and Caroline, both CC '09, who asked not to be identified by their last names, holed up in Caroline's Lit Hum classroom to study.
Caroline explained the logic behind crashing in Hamilton. "We decided, we have this whole building to ourselves, why don't we just sleep here? We're going to be here late studying-we might as well not go back to our rooms."
"We study in that room because there's a big wooden table and windows on two walls, you have the whole chalkboard to yourself. It was getting late, 11:30, and the doors were locked at this point," Anna said. "I don't know when exactly we decided this was going to be a naked sleepover."
Caroline continued: "It just kept escalating from there. Well, if we're gonna sleep here, we might as well sleep on my Lit Hum table. If we're gonna sleep on my Lit Hum table, we might as well be naked."
Anna added, "I think it was something about the idea that we had an entire building to ourselves in New York City. It really was cinematic, waking up there."
If you're feeling inspired by Caroline and Anna's story, keep in mind that tramping about Hamilton after hours is absolutely verboten.
"That is not allowed. Once the building is closed, it should be shut down and no one should be in there," Jose Rosado, associate director of operations for the Columbia Public Safety, said.
When word got back to their friends, though, "most were jealous," Anna said. "Some were like, why didn't you call me? And some were like, oh, that's weird, why did you do that?"
Caroline, meanwhile, got to see her classmates' reactions firsthand. "By the end of the next class, word had gotten around, and people were sort of ... keeping their hands off the table," she said.