I'm the Fourth Year Rep for MURC (the Maths Undergraduate Representative Committee), and this term I've been occasionally joining the lovely folks over at RPGSoc for some Dungeons and Dragons. Outside of Oxford I do a lot of work with UKMT, a charity aiming to increase the accessibility of challenging mathematical problems for talented high school students. I tutor for them and also help out at their summer schools.
I've heard you’re not a massive fan of the Harry Potter series—why did you join the society?
I first came along because a lot of my friends were involved in the society and I wanted a way to meet new people outside of my college. What I found was a really nice, non-judgemental atmosphere that was very welcoming, which is something we work hard to create in the society to this day. HPSoc is sort of like quicksand in that the more you struggle, the deeper into the society you sink, but, like, in a good way.
What's your favourite part of your role as Secretary?
My role on paper is primarily to chair meetings and take the minutes, but in reality I end up doing a wide range of jobs to make things (hopefully) run slightly smoother. That variety is the thing I like most of all. One week, I can be buying prizes for a scavenger hunt (and to those people that won, I'm getting around to it soon, I promise!), the next I am trying to cram as many people as possible into a tiny marquee at the Sorting ceremony. It's all good fun.
If you'd got your Hogwarts letter, what would you have done on your first week at school?
I imagine my first week at Hogwarts would have been remarkably similar to my experience of Freshers' Week: it being with a horrendously long train ride to a place that looks like a castle, whereupon I am invited to luxurious feasts surrounded by portraits and professors. I'm given lessons on arcane, ancient knowledge and shown intricate diagrams written annotated in an indecipherable alphabet (first term geometry did NOT go well for me...). I try out Quidditch and decide that's not for me. I dress up in a fancy gown, whilst incantations are whispered in Latin (sadly these ones don't do anything but make me a member of the university). I'm invited to try various potions that have been concocted in people's rooms (out of bottom-shelf alcohol). Finally, I shun as much human contact as possible and hole myself up in the library trying to find information on horcruxes so that I may live forever.
Beauxbatons or Durmstrang?
Well, as hard as I tried to deny it during childhood, I am in fact a Muggle-born. Since Durmstrang don't accept Muggle-borns, I guess I would have to go to Beauxbatons—which is annoying since they wear such ugly hats in the movies.
I am a lifetime member of the Oxford University Speculative Fiction Society (sci-fi/fantasy), as are all of my alternate universe selves. That perk cost me extra.
You're a Slytherin—how would you defend your house against the charge that you're all evil?
Rowling was clearly engaging in a brutal propaganda war. It’s easy to say they're all evil, but who wouldn’t be pissed off if the vast majority of the school (including teachers!) automatically ostracised them at the age of eleven, based on misinterpreting the words of a hat. When a hat tells you you’re being too mean, you are not the good guys. Plus Harry is kind of a dick—maybe the nice Slytherins just didn’t fancy listening to his rude comments about their house.
What’s been your favourite event that you’ve organised as Social Sec?
Our first formal hall event which took place at my college, Oriel. 25 attendees for the dinner, and most of them managed to squeeze into my fairly small living room for casual drinks and conversation. After that the brave and willing took a jaunt to Park End. Hopefully we'll be able to reprise the club night soon.
Which Harry Potter characters would you invite to plan the perfect party?
- Lee Jordan and the twins
Sirius is there for his devil-may-care attitude and dazzling good looks.
Diagon Alley or Knockturn Alley?
Definitely Diagon Alley. For one thing, Knockturn seems to be seriously lacking in variety. Even Dark wizards need to buy robes every now again, and preferably not haunted or murderous ones. Secondly, Knockturn Alley is so blatantly dodgy. I suspect that the Ministry has a watch-list based on who’s witless enough to buy anything from there.
Keep up the Quest!