Dumbledore's Army Invades ASU

History freshman Holly Solis sits outside of the Memorial Union on a brisk afternoon. Spread across her black shirt is a picture of Daniel Radcliffe. By her side is a satchel with the words "Dumbledore’s Army" emblazoned in scarlet and gold lettering. While many people would recognize that as a reference to the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling, they might not realize it’s also the name of the ASU club she’s president and co-founder of.

Solis came to ASU from out of state and was looking for a way to get involved. After exploring two other Harry Potter fan outlets, the Quidditch team and a book-club group, she realized they weren’t for her.

“I found it really difficult to go up and talk to people because I’m a freshman and not many people are like, ‘Hey, freshman,’” she says, smiling. “Usually I’m really shy, which is why I tried so hard to start this club to meet other people like me, and the club has become my defining characteristic on campus.”

The Harry Potter series has always been a way for Solis to make friends. She first received the books as a gift from her godfather when she was 10. Though not a fan at first, she fell in love with them after reading the scene where Harry finds himself with a letter from Hogwarts delivered via the giant Hagrid.

“I thought that it'd be awesome to have this guy say, ‘You’re a wizard.’ That it would be amazing,” she says. “I think that’s what caught my attention, this entire fantasy world that I could be part of, because I was never like a kid who had a lot of friends and I was never really popular. But then I found other people who liked Harry Potter.”

Harry Potter is how Solis met co-founder and Dumbledore's Army vice-president Kimmer O’Reilly. Being a transfer student, O’Reilly found himself looking for friends as well. The film practice junior had explored other clubs but found that many organizations didn’t really socialize as much as he would have liked. He thinks Harry Potter is something many people can appreciate.

“Everybody’s got that ‘I feel neglected by my parents’ thing: I’m lonely, I’m in a new-world type of situation where they’re meeting new friends or receiving new parental figures, going through adolescence, all that jazz,” he says.

Harry Potter fans don’t struggle to find each other. Social work sophomore Rayne Erwin says she was at the club fair when she first saw signs for Dumbledore’s Army. Wearing her Harry Potter shirt, she was invited to be the treasurer on the spot.

“I have a ton of Harry Potter friends but none as big as me, except for my roommate who I met through YouTube/Harry Potter,” she says giggling. “I joined it to meet people who enjoy just sitting around making Harry Potter references.”

Erwin says she spent a lot of high school online immersed in Harry Potter sites and getting detention for reading the books in class. She’s also a beater on the ASU Quidditch team and regularly attends Wizard of Rock concerts, which feature Harry Potter themed music. She says she has embraced her nerdiness and wants the club to help other people do the same.

“I just want people to realize how awesome it is to be a nerd,” she says gesturing with her hands, smoothing out her Harry Potter Alliance shirt.

Harry Potter Alliance is an organization dedicated to promoting equality and tolerance of all people and donates to charities that coincide with that mission. Creative writing sophomore and club member Lorraine Lubanski is hoping to start an ASU chapter of the organization. Lubanski found Dumbdore’s Army through Facebook and both she and Solis thought it would be good to coordinate their efforts.

“Harry Potter Alliance is doing exactly what I want to do, they’re fighting real dark arts and using Harry Potter,” she says. “Dumbledore’s Army will hopefully be just as enthusiastic and also another outlet for me to share my love for Harry Potter.”

Even though many people make fun of the books or her love for them, Solis makes peace with the mockery. She says she knows everyone is always going to dislike something. She shares her enthusiasm for Harry Potter with others because the story and characters mean so much to her.

“It’s not just a kid’s book to me,” she says. “It’s more like a whole world.”

Reach the reporter at sheydt@asu.edu


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