Potterheads come in a variety of breeds. There’s the casual fan — the one who has only seen the eight movies. There’s the average fan — the one who has read all the books and has dressed up as Harry Potter or Hermione Granger for Halloween at least once. There’s the dedicated fan – the one who knows every character’s birthday and was devastated when the letter from Hogwarts never arrived. Then there’s the “go-Hogwarts-or-go-home” fan. These are the ones who get sorted into the Wizards and Muggles Club at the College of William and Mary.
52 students at the College officially became new members of WizMug on the night of Sept. 25. Each new recruit was sorted into Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw or Slytherin based on their personality.
Anastasia Rivera ’17 is a new member who began reading Harry Potter when she was 12 years old.
“I found out about it when one of my hall mates actually told me about this club, and then I just really liked it when I came to the first meeting,” Rivera said. “They seem like really cool people.”
Rivera was excited about the prospect of being sorted into any house, although she favored Gryffindor the most.
“I don’t really have a preference, but I feel like I fit Gryffindor the best,” Rivera said. “Mainly because I don’t fit the rest of them … and I just love people.”
Priya Pannapula ’17 participated in a Harry Potter club at her elementary school, so she was also happy to discover WizMug and be sorted.
“I’m so excited,” Pannapula said. “I don’t have a favorite [house] right now just because the club environment is so great.”
To the 52 incoming first years, the sorting ceremony may seem as easy as magic. Outside the Wizarding World, however, lots of preparations are needed to prepare for a sorting ceremony.
President of WizMug, Headmistress Christina Hartless ’14, is a Hufflepuff who was sorted with about 40 people the year before. She explained the behind-the-scenes aspect of the sorting ceremony.
“It’s a lot of people this year,” Hartless said. “You fill out a sorting quiz beforehand and it has questions like, ‘What house traits do you see in yourself?’, ‘What would you see in the Mirror of Erised?’, ‘What would your Patronus be?’ — just different things like that to really get a handle of what your personality is since we sort where we think your personality fits in the canon house qualities.”
After the prospective members have filled out the quiz, the upperclassmen in the club deliver letters stating exactly when and where the sorting ceremony will take place.
Deciding where the first years should go is not an easy task. The Heads of Houses and the Executive Board make the touch calls after they read their answers from the sorting quiz, and they try to maintain an even number for all the houses — although at times there is controversy.
“Sometimes, someone is really in between two [houses], and it’ll be split. We’re not necessarily fighting over it, but it’s like a ‘Hey, where’s this person going to go?’” Hartless said. “Trying to decide gets a little difficult with some of them … We have a hard time getting Slytherins to stay.”
The new students were instructed to meet on the Crim Dell Meadow, and they were led in alphabetical order to the Great Hall by Deputy Headmistress Destiny Douglas ’16.
Douglas, a Ravenclaw, explained how the ceremony, which takes place in the Great Hall of the Sir Christopher Wren Building, operates.
“Christina is headmistress, so she presides over the ceremony, and she reads their names and announces which house they are in,” Douglas said. “The hat gets put on their heads.”
Although it doesn’t talk or sing as it does in the books, the sorting hat is a replica of the one from the movies — and incoming first years were eager to place it on their heads.
As Headmistress Hartless announced each person’s fate, cheers erupted from the prospective house, and the new members joined their houses’ tables in the Great Hall.
Douglas really likes having the ceremony in the Wren Building and then having a feast afterwards in the basement of the Great Hall.
“[The Great Hall] kind of makes it feels more Hogwarts-ish,” Douglas said. “After sorting, we go downstairs … to have food and feast, essentially. All the Heads of Houses do sorting goodie bags for their new members.”
The sorting ceremony is a big event for WizMug, but they also hold other events, such as a Death Day Party on Halloween in memory of Lily and James Potter, a Yule Log Ceremony in February, and a House Cup at the end of each school year.
With almost 600 people on its listserv, WizMug helps the College top the list of top campuses for Harry Potter fans. Albus Dumbledore would be happy to know the club is making magical dreams come true. In “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets,” Dumbledore said help would always be given at Hogwarts to those who ask for it without specifying any house in particular.
Pannapula, who was sorted into Gryffindor, realized the truth behind that statement.
“Hogwarts is my home, not a house,” Pannapula said.