West campus turns into Hogwarts for Harry Potter Day

ASU’s West campus was transformed into an enchanting caricature of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry Thursday, and it wasn’t short of magic.

Faculty, students and families adorned in cloaks and wands in hand gathered on the West campus for the first Harry Potter Day to celebrate the long-beloved series.

Stepping through the arching entrance of the campus, students and faculty entered J.K. Rowling’s spellbinding world.

Sights included a student who set up a makeshift Ollivander’s Wand Shop by the campus courtyard, patiently trying to sell wands to those passing by. A “minister of magic” pointed visitors in the direction of Diagon Alley, located in a hallway outside of classrooms, with the tip of his wand, accompanied by the echoing cheers of a nearby Quidditch match.

“It’s the first of many to come,” said Madam Hooch, better known to her students as American studies professor Shannon Lank.

The professor, draped in a black cloak and sporting the character’s distinct silver pixie cut, is responsible for starting Harry Potter Day and bringing the wizarding world to ASU.

“Harry Potter opens doors for many subjects and the minds of many students,” she said.

Lank currently teaches a Potter-dedicated course at ASU called ASM 194, “Harry Potter and American Culture,” which will be offered again in the fall semester.

“Harry Potter is a lens which students can look through and understand many things, including gender and pop culture,” she said.

Lank isn’t the only faculty member on the quest of bringing Harry Potter’s culture into the lives of Sun Devils.

The event featured a scavenger hunt in which participants were led to different offices on campus, only to be greeted by those who appeared to be faculty of Hogwarts, including Ramsey Eric Ramsey, associate dean of Barrett, the Honors College on the West campus, dressed as Dumbledore. A professor dressed as “he who shall not be named.”

Several ASU professors presented lectures on different topics relating to Harry Potter, including one on the series’ influence on sexuality and race.

Young wizards even found something to do in the kids corner, where children face-painted, jumped in an inflatable Hogwarts castle and colored pictures of Dobby with crayons in one hand and wand in the other.

The activity that attracted the most attention was of course the quintessential wizarding sport: Quidditch.

Keepers, chasers, seekers and beaters perched themselves on their broomsticks, eager to shoot the Quaffleballs through the hula-hoop goals and fervent on being the first to catch the golden snitch, which was actually a gold-suited student.

Student teams from both the Tempe and West campuses gathered to face each other “in the air.”

“It’s very fun,” said early childhood education sophomore Catheryn Jimenez. “It’s bringing a lot of publicity and attracting a lot of people [to the West campus].”

Jimenez, who is a student in Lank’s class, a self-declared Slytherin and Deatheater, agrees that Harry Potter is undeniably a part of American culture, but it’s also a great way to learn.

“It can be very educational,” Jimenez said.

Though the Quidditch match was held on the West campus, Tempe had representation from Dumbledore’s Army, a Harry Potter club on the Tempe campus.

“It’s purely amazing,” said metal work junior Ryann Padilla on participating in Harry Potter Day.

Padilla, dressed as Bellatrix Lestrange, is a member of Dumbledore’s Army, a club where Tempe students can enjoy Quidditch matches and other Harry Potter inspired activities throughout the year.

“Harry Potter has been life-changing,” she said.

Padilla has taken her love for the series beyond the novels and Quidditch, and into her artistic life.

"Pretty much all the metal art I work on is inspired by and has something to do with Harry Potter," she said.

Rowling’s masterpiece has affected many Valley citizens and students alike, as dozens trickled to the event throughout the day.

“It’s only going to get bigger,” Lank said.

Reach the reporter at ktenagli@asu.edu

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