After seven best-selling novels, eight original movies, a new prequel series and an entire Universal Orlando Resorts destination, it is hard to deny that Harry Potter has left a large impact on our generation.
From events to clubs to magical sports, Stony Brook University fully embraces the “Boy Who Lived.” Many college students today were raised on the magical Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling, and this phenomenon has become a part of our generation’s popular culture identity.
Students on campus have decided to embody the spirit of Harry Potter by making their own Dumbledore’s Army, a local chapter of the Harry Potter Alliance. The Harry Potter Alliance is an international, non-profit organization that promotes social activism in areas such as literacy, voter participation, gender equality and more.
“Harry Potter is all about, you have a voice,” Sylvia Johnson, secretary of Dumbledore’s Army and junior business administration major, said. “No matter how big or small you are. Use that voice for good.”
Dumbledore’s Army is a club for those who want to make a change — no prior knowledge of Harry Potter is required, but a love for the Harry Potter universe is a major portion of the bond between club members. New members are divided into the four houses — Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, Slytherin and Gryffindor — upon joining, based on a personality test that the club created. These houses compete throughout the year for house points, leading up to the House Cup, reminiscent of the Hogwarts tradition.
The club has been working to help the community on and around campus. At its recent “Yule Ball,” the club collected non-perishable food items for the SBU Food Pantry. The club also takes part in Penny Wars, competing between houses to raise money for the Ronald McDonald House Charities.
“It definitely bonded us, being in this house together and growing together,” Johnson, a member of the Hufflepuff house, said. “And now even though we’re in different places, they’re still some of my closest friends.”
Through these houses and competitions, members are given the chance to connect with like-minded students they may have never run into on campus before joining DA. It is easy to see that they have built themselves a family instead, just by talking to the club members.
Some students have taken their love of Harry Potter to a completely different realm — sports. Quidditch is a sporting event Rowling invented for the wizarding universe, which was brought to life on college campuses in 2005.
US Quidditch describes the sport as “a unique mix of elements from rugby, dodgeball, and tag” — and don’t forget the brooms players have to ride on on top of everything else. It’s a mixed gender contact sport, with seven players of four different positions and four balls on the field at one time.
Stony Brook Quidditch is a member of the US Quidditch league and currently has 14 active members. During the fall, they meet Mondays and Thursday from 7 to 9 p.m. and Sundays from 4 to 6 p.m. at the Campus Recreation South Parking Lot Fields.
“It’s not necessary for people to like Harry Potter to play,” Kummi Chintarlapalli, president of the Quidditch team and senior business management major, said. “It’s a whole sport on its own, with its own rules, so that makes it fun. It can get pretty physically competitive, which I personally like.”
Since 2005, the league has expanded to include over 100 teams across the country, an annual Quidditch Cup and was even televised for the first time in 2013. The campus team travels the tri-state area and as far as Texas and Maryland to compete in games and tournaments against other college teams, like the recent Oktoberfest Invitational at Hofstra University.
“I happen to also like Harry Potter, but I don’t consider myself a superfan and neither do plenty of our players,” Suzanne Kostrewski, the public relations representative of the Quidditch team and senior biology major, said. “I used to play soccer for years but wanted to try something new. I joined the team because I wanted a way to stay in shape in a fun way, and it seemed like a relatively low pressure way of doing this.”
If there is one thing to be learned about Harry Potter culture on campus, is that it’s inclusive. No matter your year, gender, major, athletic ability, Hogwarts house or even knowledge of Harry Potter, there is enough magic for everyone within the community. It is a message that shines through in J.K. Rowling’s mythical world, and one that shines through in the reality of our campus.
“I’m from a very small town,” Nikki DuBord, a freshman health science major and a Slytherin in Dumbledore’s Army, said. “To be able to be super dorky, and to have it be completely acceptable — it’s an experience I’ve never really had before.”