The mystery of the Newcomb Stairs

Benjamin Miller attempts to solve the mystery of the Newcomb stairs.


Ben Miller takes on the mystery of the Newcomb stairs. 

Veronica Sirotic | Cavalier Daily

The Taj Mahal. The Eiffel Tower. The Great Pyramids of Giza. All of these architectural feats evoke images of greatness, power and human triumph in the minds of whoever thinks of them. Now, it seems as if a new legend of construction greatness is about to arise: the Stairs by Newcomb Dining Hall.

You heard me right. These stairs have been under construction for so long that there is no possible way that the University could be building the eighth modern Wonder of the World. The stairs were due to be finished in the first week of December, but clearly that is not the case. The stairs initially were closed down due to water leaks. A University spokesperson claimed that all that had to be done to the stairs was “to strip them all off, re-waterproof them and put them all back to make sure everywhere is dry and safe for students.”

Although this is just speculation, I believe there are three possible explanations for these long-delayed renovation plans. The first is that in an increasingly-competitive college landscape, University President Teresa Sullivan has decided that a new way to both woo students to join these hallowed Grounds and to lead tourists to visit is to build the greatest and most expensive staircase of all time. Maybe the stairs will be made of solid gold. Maybe the stairs are really an escalator. Regardless of the details, there is no doubt that the University front office believes that these stairs are the final key needed to push past those California schools into first place on the U.S. News and World Report public college rankings. 

The second explanation is that the stairs are really a front for a secret underground lair. The real mystery lies in who will reside in the lair. Maybe it is a lounge for Tony Bennett. Maybe it is where they keep all the extra U-Guides sweatshirts. Maybe it is an enclosure to hold in the ghost of Thomas Jefferson. All three ideas are incredibly probable. 

The final explanation is that the stairs are really just being renovated, and it is taking longer due to inclement weather and a misestimation of how long the project originally would take. However, this is a terrible explanation and undoubtedly the least likely of the three. Therefore, keep your eyes open for the new Newcomb stairs: due the first week of December 2021.

Benjamin Miller is a Humor columnist. He may be reached at

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