Sun Devil Empire, a club on the Tempe campus, aims to give students a place to meet and contribute to an evolving galaxy of discourse around the iconic "Star Wars" franchise.
Shane Bechtel, a sophomore in astrophysics and the club vice president, said Sun Devil Empire is unique because it allows the members to build their knowledge and further develop theories about Star Wars characters, books and lore.
“We’re all just like different story bits,” Bechtel said. “That’s where I really like contributing to the club.”
The club meets twice a week, once on Tuesdays for a general meeting and again over the weekend for a screening of one of the films in the franchise, Bechtel said.
Bechtel said the general meetings tend to focus on news and discussions in the "Star Wars" community while providing students with a relief from everyday responsibilities.
“None of us think about anything except just joking around and looking at some cool stuff about 'Star Wars',” Bechtel said. “It’s more of just like an hour escape, we don’t have to worry about anything.”
Nathan Mayer, a mechanical engineering sophomore and the club president, said the club is something all "Star Wars" fans can enjoy. He said he encourages students to join the Sun Devil Empire Facebook page for meeting information.
The club was originally founded in Oct. 2016, but only started picking up traction this past spring, Mayer said.
“I really want to try to encourage people, even if they’re a casual person who has no clue what we’re talking about right now,” Mayer said. “They really don’t have to, to be able to enjoy this group we want to make.”
The club won’t convene for the Dec. 15 release of “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” because it falls over the winter break but the club leadership hopes to generate more interest in the group by getting a people together to see the movie after the spring semester starts, Mayer said.
Mayer said the club seeks to work with the Programming and Activities Board to generate revenue and awareness among the student body.
“They did a screening back in February or March of 'Rogue One',” Mayer said. “We’ll, hopefully, get an event like that for 'The Last Jedi' and hopefully we’ll be able to be there to advertise (the club).”
Conservation biology and ecology junior and Sun Devil Empire secretary John Talarico said that the club is a place for all fans, and that it doesn’t focus on only one part of the old or new expanded universe.
"This club doesn’t really exclude anything from 'Star Wars',” Talarico said. “Everything is included.”