By Nathanael Hawthorne
In 1997, a British author wrote a book that book was made into a movie and kick-started one of the best selling movie series and spawned a fan base across the globe.
Harry Potter is one of the most successful book and movie series of all time. The net gross for the movies is roughly $7.7 billion. The first book alone has sold nearly 400 million copies.
With the popularity of the books and movies, naturally, people want to escape the reality of the “muggle world” and step into the wizarding world of Harry Potter. Youngstown State University students are no exception, thus the Harry Potter club was born.
Several years ago, however, the club changed its name to the Room of Requirement.
In the Harry Potter world, the Room of Requirement is a room that transforms and adapts to the need of its users.
“That’s sort of what the Room of Requirement does,” Angela Messenger, the Room of Requirement advisor said. “There’s a foundation of being interested in Harry Potter, but if they’re are also interested in manga, anime or Dr. Who, they’ll discuss other fandoms as well.”
The club has various events throughout the year. They have a Halloween party called “Death Day,” a Yule Ball, which stems directly from the Harry Potter series, and the Hogwarts House Tournament. The latter of which runs hand-in-hand with the Andrews Recreation and Wellness Center for Family Day.
“We co-hosted a Harry Potter themed Rec Extra a couple years ago,” Messenger said. “There was an amazing turnout of students … A huge amount of people showed up. So, we’re enthusiastic about this upcoming partnership with the rec center.”
The club is a part of the Harry Potter Alliance, a national organization. YSU’s Room of Requirement is a chapter of the organization and was the first chapter of its kind in Ohio.
“[The club] partners with the YSU English Festival, Friends of Maag Library and Waste-Free Maag to host a book drive annually,” Messenger said. “[The club] is also part of the Accio Books Campaign.”
“Since 2009, this annual worldwide book drive has given over 350,000 books away to communities in need,” according to the Harry Potter Alliance website.
The Room of Requirement collects books — children’s through young adult — and makes sure the books get to charitable organizations. In the Youngstown area, the club has given books to PAYO, the Beatitude House and even donated books to an Ohio State University extension that took the books to Ghana. They have also worked with local organizations that have a direct need for the books.
“We oftentimes collect about 2,000 books a year and disseminate those,” Messenger said.
While the club has a focus on charitable causes, they also know how to have fun. Meetings are every Wednesday from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. in the writing center.
“Since we meet at night, we tend to have the club be a break for our members,” club President Sara Jackman said. “We play games like Cards Against Muggles, a spin-off of Cards Against Humanity, and we sometimes have discussions about the books and movies.”
Members of the club don’t have to be Harry Potter superfans. Laura Sylvester said she came to a meeting not really knowing the Harry Potter world, but quickly became excited to be a member of the club.
“Going into a club full of people who had grown up on the series would have been intimidating if I hadn’t already been friends with three officers and a few members,” Sylvester said. “I had no clue what was going to happen … but I was pretty excited about it.”
“We are open to anyone coming and joining us,” Jackman said. “We are a very open and welcoming group of people.”