While the lack of owls with admission letters to Hogwarts left many 11-year-olds heartbroken, there is still a chance for the current students of UCLA to experience Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
Thanks to the efforts of the On-Campus Housing Committee, the Campus Events Committee and the UCLA Quidditch team, this first week of winter quarter will be transformed into Harry Potter week. This weeklong program will feature a number of Harry Potter-themed events including a festival, movie screenings, a Quidditch tournament, a Yule Ball, a House Cup competition and a Horcrux scavenger hunt.
Kicking off the event with today’s Festival, students can expect a number of booths and activities including a house sorting, trivia games, demonstrations by the UCLA magic club and mini Quidditch games with the UCLA Quidditch team. While costumes and Potter-wear are welcome all week, Zoe Robbins, a second-year anthropology student and OCHC director of programming, said that this event in particular would showcase costumed individuals including a Dumbledore, a McGonagall and a Sorting Hat.
On Saturday, both the Quidditch Tournament and the Yule Ball will take place. Currently, the president of the Quidditch team Katelynn Kazane, a third-year microbiology, immunology and molecular genetics student, said she expects 10 teams to participate in the tournament.
Teams in the tournament can be made up of students who live both on- and off-campus. Kazane said it’s been especially popular for students to make floor-based teams.
In the evening after the tournament, students can break out their “dress robes” and attend the Yule Ball. The dance is semiformal and, despite the Harry Potter theme, will feature modern music provided by a DJ.
While magic might be in short supply at the Ball, Carlos Quintanilla, OCHC internal vice president and a second-year history student, said that OCHC has put forth a huge effort to replicate the whimsical feel of Hogwarts. He said that a lot of the decorations are meant to imitate the films as closely as possible.
“Like in the movie, you see these floating candles at the Yule Ball and we’ve got glowsticks that we’re hanging from the ceiling to mimic that effect,” Quintanilla said. “Plus the House Cup we’re giving away to the winning court is really cool.”
Visions of an ethereal Yule Ball have been in the works since the summer when the three organizations initially banded together. From there, the idea of an entire week’s worth of events snowballed into action. The executive board planning the event jointly decided the program should take place during the first week of winter quarter for a number of reasons.
“We picked winter quarter because we felt that it fit in better especially with the way the Yule Ball is depicted in the fourth film since it takes place during Christmas time … so having it really early in winter would be best, especially as a sort of winter kick-off event,” Quintanilla said.
Like Quintanilla, Robbins said that OCHC is taking advantage of first week by utilizing it as a community-builder. She said that by making a decorating competition among the courts – the winner of which will receive the House Cup – unites the courts in friendly competition under a common interest.
“OCHC really wanted to instill a sense of community on campus, which is why we separated each of the courts into different houses,” Robbins said. “Also, we’re really trying to encourage resident assistants and Hill government representatives to co-program with Harry Potter themes in their own smaller communities and win points for the House Cup.”
Kazane said the time frame also fits in with the Quidditch team’s goals to fundraise for the international collegiate tournament cleverly dubbed the Quidditch World Cup, which takes place early in spring. Kazane added that most of the proceeds raised in the Yule Ball will go toward sending the Quidditch team to this year’s World Cup in Kissimmee, Florida, where they will defend its position as the sixth-best team in the world.
While much of the event goes toward supporting the UCLA community, Robbins said there is one more goal, which transcends the confines of campus: children’s literacy.
“Children’s literacy is a really important issue. … I know that Harry Potter was a book that got a lot of people to start reading because of it, and it got people to start enjoying reading because of it. But we really just want to get this issue out there about what people can do about this,” Robbins said.
OCHC has insured there will be information about improving children’s literacy and how to get involved through the Community Service Commission at almost every event.
As of now, Robbins said she isn’t able to tell if the event will become an annual project. First-year environmental science student Marissa Jurcak, however, said that using other book series might work in the future.
“I think if it was an annual thing it would be more helpful because then people would know what it is, and it would have a set time,” Jurcak said. “I think that with the female population ‘Twilight’ would work because there’s been such a mania about it … or ‘Hunger Games’ would be really good too.”
As new book series become more current and popular, there remains a special place for Harry Potter, which is why Quintanilla said he is optimistic about the durability of the Harry Potter theme.
“I think it’s an interesting idea to center the week around a different book and film series in terms of longevity,” Quintanilla said. “I personally was never a big Harry Potter fan, but something about it just gets me really excited and we got so much positive feedback from the Hill. … If it comes back next year, it’ll definitely be bigger and better.”