If you’re looking for a university where you can explore your inner witch, wizard or muggle, then you are in the right place. About.com recently named the College of William and Mary number one on the list of top colleges for Harry Potter fans.
“I was really excited and proud when I heard William and Mary got the top spot for Harry Potter fan schools,” Michele Ricciardi ’16 said. “I am a huge fan of the books and movies.”
Students at the College said they have noticed the impact the book and movie series have had on campus.
“I think Harry Potter is definitely significant when you compare it to other movie series,” Sidney Brooks ’15 said. “I’m not surprised that William and Mary got the top spot, but it’s still pretty cool.”
The College is home to two major Harry Potter organizations — the Wizards and Muggles Club, known as WizMug, and the Quidditch Team, known as the Griffins — which was part of the reason About.com decided to rank the College number one.
With 200 members on its listserv, Wizards and Muggles Club is one of the largest of its kind and About.com describes it as “almost as big as Hogwarts itself.” The club, which sees an average of 30-40 members in attendance for each weekly meeting, is led by Headmistress Ann Rogers ’15 and Deputy Headmistress Michelle Biwer ’14. Other executive positions include a Professor of Arithmancy (treasurer), Junior Undersecretary to the Minister (secretary) and a Daily Prophet Correspondent (Publicity Chair).
WizMug begins each semester with a Sorting Ceremony during which, just like in the books, students are sorted into one of the four houses: Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw or Slytherin.
“Sorting is the big event; it’s a pretty legit sort of thing,” Biwer said. “When students come to the interest meeting, we give them a form, which they fill out and send back. Then the executive board gets together and sorts them into the houses. The ceremony is really cool. It’s in the Wren Building, in the Great Hall, which is appropriate.”
After students are sorted into a house, they spend the rest of the semester participating in a series of inter-house competitions to compete for the House Cup, while also participating in other classic Harry Potter events, such as a Death Day Party around Halloween and an annual Yule Ball in February. The ball is open to the public, and this year’s ball will be the second in the club’s history. In addition to these two larger events, the club hosts weekly smaller events such as “bake-offs,” during which houses compete to create Harry Potter themed confections.
Biwer said she was happy to hear the College ranked first on the list of top Harry Potter schools.
“It was just exciting,” she said. “I hope that it maybe makes people want to come here for another reason other than William and Mary being a great school. I think Harry Potter is a big part of the culture on campus. If you look at a lot of the posts on Overheard, you can tell. It’s a part of our generation’s identity.”
The WizMug Club also helps students build close connections and friendships with those who share similar vested interests in the iconic series.
“I have met some of my best friends in the club,” Biwer said. “When you sort people into houses, you get really close. I was a transfer, so it was really good for me. This is where I met a lot of my friends. It’s exciting that William and Mary gets exposure for something besides how great our students and academics are. It’s a fun thing. It may be a nerdy thing, but it’s a fun thing.”
The club is looking to expand in the future, as well as keep current members coming back each week.
“We always want new members, but our main thing is retention,” Biwer said. “We just want people to see that it’s something they could make part of their routine.”
In addition to the WizMug Club, the College is also home to an active Quidditch team that travels throughout Virginia taking on other university teams. Founded in 2011 by Sam Meadows ’12 and Molly Hillberg ’13, the Griffins are a part of the Virginia Quidditch League and face schools such as James Madison University and Christopher Newport University.
Middlebury College in Vermont and Alfred University in New York were ranked No. 2 and No. 3, respectively.