Hi, friends! My name is Katie McGhee ’16 and I’m the History of Magic professor and the head of Hufflepuff House here at Hogwarts — I mean the College of William and Mary. I’m of course talking about Wizards and Muggles, the College’s one and only Harry Potter club. When people find out I’m in this club, they want to know everything about it. I mean, a lot of people at William and Mary like Harry Potter, but how can a group of college students be that obsessed with it? To help people learn more about our awesome club, I’ll be writing this blog for The Flat Hat about it. To start off, I’m going to answer five common questions about Wizards and Muggles.
- What do you DO in Wizards and Muggles?
Where do I even begin? At the beginning of every semester we have a Sorting Ceremony in the Great Hall (yup, just like in the books) of the Sir Christopher Wren Building. It’s amazing and exciting and magical and about a thousand other adjectives. Members end up bonding with their house by spending time outside of the club together. At club meetings, we can do any number of things: some common activities include trivia competitions between houses, bad fanfiction readings, skits and my personal favorite, a bake-off. What can I say — I’m a Hufflepuff. We like food. And of course, every year we have a Deathday Party, a Yule Ball and a House Cup competition!
- Wait. You sort people? How do you know what House they’re in?
Even though we have a Sorting Hat, it is sadly not sentient. So instead of having their mind read by an all-knowing piece of fabric, each new member fills out a sorting quiz and turns it in a week before the ceremony. This is nothing like the Pottermore quiz, which some of you readers may have taken. It’s not multiple choice, and I think it gives a better picture of someone’s personality as a result. That’s all I’m saying. If you want to know where you would get sorted, join the club (or be one of my best friends and ask me about the quiz because I get super pumped about sorting my friends).
- I haven’t read the books or seen the movies. Will you judge me?
NO! NO NO NO NO NO! I absolutely hate the fact there is pressure on some people to do that. If you have an interest in Harry Potter, great! Let’s talk about our favorite chapters and our opinions on Snape! If you don’t have an interest, please don’t let anyone make you feel bad about that. I can’t tell you how many times someone has felt embarrassed to admit to me that they haven’t read or seen Harry Potter. There are plenty of popular things I know nothing about, like Star Wars. There certainly are judge-y people out there, but they are missing one of the biggest themes in Harry Potter: that our differences make us awesome.
- How many people are in the club? Are people generally close?
I would say that last year we had about 30 to 40 people at most of our meetings — sometimes more and sometimes less depending on the time of the year (midterms week is always a sad time for any club meetings). And while people usually stick with their House, inter-House friendships are common and very awesome because they make for great bonding opportunities. I’m the Head of Hufflepuff and one of my best friends is the Head of Slytherin, so our houses hang out a lot together. Our alliance (if we’re cool enough to call it that) is especially great because we get along so well even though our houses are pretty much as opposite from each other as possible.
- Why do you like Harry Potter so much?
It’s different for everyone, honestly. For me, I’ve always been enthralled by the world that J.K. Rowling created — it’s so rich and detailed and somehow realistic despite being a fantasy world. As I’ve grown, I’ve started appreciating more of the themes, values and questions that she wove into the series. Harry’s coming of age is a roadmap for teenagers; Ron’s character growth is a sign we all have the power to conquer our demons; Hermione’s strength and intelligence make her a positive role model for girls and women of all ages and Dumbledore’s words of wisdom provide comfort whenever we need it. J.K. Rowling used a fantasy world to teach us about some very real topics (courage, love, grief, tolerance and friendship are just a few of them), and that is possibly the most magical thing about Harry Potter.
Follow Wizards and Muggles on Twitter at @WizMug.