Wizards among muggles

A ‘wand-er-ful’ exploration of Dumbledore’s Army


Harry Potter is the best selling book series in history, and if you were a kid during the late nineties and early aughts then you were probably a fan, or at the very least aware of the the book series, its movie franchise and the billions of dollars worth of merchandise that the popularity of the series generated.

While that popularity might have died down in recent years, it certainly has not disappeared as evidenced by the existence of organizations like Allegheny’s Dumbledore’s Army.

D.A. took their name from the organization of rebel Hogwarts students that was introduced in the fifth Harry Potter book, “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.” The club — while having the Harry Potter series as a point of origin and frequent reference — is by design a club without many borders or boundaries; they are very accepting with the meetings of the club being very flexible in terms of content, with the only mainstay being a robust sense of humor and a sense of camaraderie between the members.

In fact, while the club is based around the Harry Potter series, it does not demand a wholesale incorporation of the series and its lore into every facet of it, with meetings, activities and events being so unrestricted and uninhibited that the members of the organization internally dubbed themselves “The Chaos Club.”

While the impetus of the club is the Harry Potter franchise the members of the club have unanimously made it very clear that while they are fond of the series they are not in support of the creator of the books, J.K. Rowling.

“F*** J.K. Rowling,” Kai Maries ’23, said. President Emily Wilson, ’22, agreed, noting that Rowling’s attitude towards transgender individuals was cited as the primary reason for the club’s disdain.

“We dislike her strongly,” Wilson said.

D.A. used to be closely tied with other Allegheny organizations including the Legion of Allegheny Gamers and the Allegheny Role-Playing and Gaming Organization. The high rate of overlap between the clubs in terms of membership as well as activities and events led to members referring to the three clubs as “different genres of nerds.”

Over time, this relationship has deteriorated due in part to a breakdown in communication between the organizations, as well as time and space contributing to a schism between the clubs. The final separation occurred when there was an event held to raise money for The American Cancer Society since an Allegheny alumni who passed away from cancer was a member of all three clubs. D.A. agreed to work with LAG and ARGO to coordinate and plan the event but the event ended up being totally organized by Dumbledore’s Army with the other two clubs showing up an hour late, according to Wilson.

This resulted in a decreased membership for the D.A. which was only compounded by the conditions of the pandemic.

“(The pandemic year) was rough; we barely had enough members at the end of the year to make a board … it was hard to get new people, hard to retain members,” Wilson said.

She explained that the club worked better in person, and with last year’s emphasis on remote options, it was difficult to cultivate the same “atmosphere of enjoyment” — according to Mattithia Burtt, ’24,— in that virtual space.

Quidditch Captain Julia Davis, ’24, who joined Dumbledore’s army in the middle of the pandemic year, enjoyed D.A.’s activities despite the pandemic’s restrictions on socialization.

“This club is where I had the most fun last semester, especially with everything going on,” Davis said. “With COVID and everything being so serious, it was nice to be able to come and have a group of friends to hang out with even if we had to be super socially distant.”

COVID-19 also made playing Quidditch every Friday, a club staple, much more difficult. Quidditch is the fictional sport from Harry Potter, played on magic flying brooms in the books and movies but takes a more terrestrial form here in the real world. According to Davis, DA is always looking for and welcoming new players.

The club activities are typically centered around the Harry Potter world and mythos, with the first meeting activity was the creation of a Marauder’s Map — a magic map from Harry Potter. The activity was to label on a map of campus where one would spend their time, by the hour on a Monday. Maps would then be swapped with one another so people could guess whose map was whose. However, the activity would be punctuated by brief periods of banter among the group of any sort, from completely unrelated topics like Jim Carrey in the live action Grinch movie to “Sexy Dumbledore.”

The club values inclusivity as Maries noted that one does not even need to be a fan of Harry Potter to join the club, of course it does not hurt to be familiar with the franchise.