By Farris Willingham, Editor-in-Chief
Anyone who has walked across campus this year probably has seen students running back and forth on the quad lawn while clutching broomsticks between their legs.
They’re playing Quidditch, a sport from the world of Harry Potter.
These “muggles,” a term denoting non-magical people, are part of more than just a Quidditch team. They’ve joined the Harry Potter Alliance.
Jordanne Benton, music senior, initiated the university’s chapter of the Harry Potter Alliance, a national service-based organization, at the beginning of the academic year to increase the scope of the Quidditch team.
“We wrote up our bylaws at the end of last year, and we signed up with the school in August,” she said. “Under school records, we are the Harry Potter Alliance, and Quidditch is a part of that.
“We’re going to be doing more things than just Quidditch.”
The Quidditch team participated last year in Relay For Life, a volunteer-driven fundraising event for the American Cancer Society, Benton said.
“We put up three Quidditch goal posts and let other people shoot through them,” she said. “That’s how we raised money that night.”
HPA members plan to continue participating in Relay For Life to fulfill the service aspect of the organization, Benton said.
The group’s member count varies when students have other commitments, Benton said.
“At any given point, we’ll have 20 to 30 people that are on our email list,” she said. “A lot of our people are just Quidditch players and are in a fraternity or sorority.
“They’re too busy doing requirements for that for HPA to really grow.”
The organization hosted elections Jan. 24, in which the organization named a new president, vice president, secretary, and treasurer.
Michael Lutz, music composition graduate and HPA’s new president, said he wants to increase membership from interest in Quidditch.
“There’s a lot of interest in Quidditch,” he said. “That’s how we get people into the organization.”
Lutz said he plans to restructure the organization and improve the Quidditch team.
“Whenever I came in, it was really unorganized,” he said. “I want to make this a more serious organization.”
HPA’s inception stemmed from the financial aid of SPECTRUM, the university’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender organization, Benton said. Since SPECTRUM was an official organization in Spring 2011, its members could request funding from Student Senate.
“HPA requested about $400 through SPECTRUM to fund for equipment, which includes the PVC pipes we used to create the goals, brooms and capes,” she said.
The organization hasn’t received any funding from Senate since, Benton said.
Warmer weather is returning to campus, which means the Quidditch team soon will pull out their brooms and “fly” again.
The “muggle” version of the game is a combination of basketball, rugby and flag football, Benton said. A Quidditch team typically consists of two beaters, a seeker, three chasers, and a keeper.
While a seeker attempts to catch the Golden Snitch, a person wearing a sock with a tennis ball inside that’s hooked to their shorts, the chasers attempt to throw a ball through one of three hoops, which the keeper guards. The beaters have kickballs, which are thrown at the chasers.
“If it makes contact with a player, and that includes their broom, then they have to run back to their hoop and touch it before they’re allowed back in the game,” Benton said. “A lot of the game is running,”
While the game is exciting, Benton said she doesn’t feel completely part of Harry Potter’s world when she’s playing Quidditch.
“We know we don’t have magic, but some people do random twirls in the air, and it’s like they’re flying,” she said. “It’s definitely about what you’re willing to do.
“You’re willing to suspend that disbelief and do a twirl in the air before you score a goal.”