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Club Feature: Harry Potter Alliance

By Polina Potochevska

Section: Features

September 16, 2016

When you think about Harry Potter, wands, spells and horcruxes may come to mind—but what about social justice? Brandeis University’s chapter of the Harry Potter Alliance uses pop culture such as books, movies and TV shows to make social justice and activism more accessible to students.

The Harry Potter Alliance (HPA) was founded in 2005 by Brandeis alumnus Andrew Slack ’02 and became an official chapter at Brandeis in 2012. Since its creation, the HPA has spread internationally across college campuses to create change in its unique way. One popular campaign is the international HPA book drive, Accio Books, which donates books to those in need and promotes literacy. The Brandeis group participates in Accio Books every April, explained Talia Franks ’18, who has been a member of the HPA since her first year and is now co-president.

Harry Potter is not the only book series that is used in activist efforts. ”Odds Are Never In Our Favor,” a campaign the HPA runs that promotes economic diversity, was based on the Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins. In terms of local charities, Brandeis’ HPA donated 161 books to the More Than Words bookstore in Waltham last semester and plans to partner with the store again this year.

The HPA is a “diverse group of people and charities,” Franks said. In previous semesters, the HPA chapter worked with the Brandeis library to host a book drive and raised money for the Boston Children’s Hospital. Last semester the club also sent a small group of students to the Granger Leadership Academy in Warwick, RI, to learn leadership skills that could strengthen the Alliance.

Also in the spring of 2016, HPA focused on using social media for social justice and had the communications director of the international HPA speak to the Brandeis chapter about the power of social media. This semester, HPA is participating in author John Green’s program, Project for Awesome, to promote “We Need Diverse Books,” a campaign focused on promoting diversity in literature. The chapter is also in the process of planning its annual project with ’DEIS Impact.

While social justice and Harry Potter might not be the most common pair, the usage of popular media to promote positive change in the community is a creative way to make books come to life and spread awareness. According to Franks, the 17 members of the club are a “Harry Potter Alliance family” who “care about Brandeis, social justice, Harry Potter, each other and making the world a better place.”

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