Finding a niche in a school the size of Michigan State University can be a very overwhelming process. With an endless list of clubs, sports teams, and organizations to choose from, students have the opportunity to make MSU seem smaller by finding people with similar interests—even if those interests are rare. Have you ever had a crazy idea to start a club based on your favorite dessert, a TV show, or make up a sport based on one from a movie? Not many of us can say we have. However these three groups took their hobbies and transformed them into successful clubs, demonstrating that with a little motivation and initiative—and the help of Facebook—anything is possible.
MSU Cookie Eaters Club
If you think this is a joke, think again. Although the idea for this club may have been tossed around as a joke for a couple years, founders Matt Durak and Matt Franklin have made it a delicious reality for cookie eaters and bakers. The club began with a Facebook group, which has become their primary form of communication. As a new club on campus with only one official meeting under their aprons, the Cookie Eaters are hungry for members. If you love socializing, meeting interesting people, and are brave enough to try some new tasty cookie recipes—or bake them— you will fit right in.
“We really want to provide a way for people to make new friends and socialize in a relaxed atmosphere,” said Durak. Another one of the club’s goals is to give back to the community by raising money for charities, said Durak.
“We really want to put on some bigger events,” said Durak, a computer engineering junior. The Cookie Eaters held a bake sale and raised $323 for Cookie’s for Kid’s Cancer, a non-profit organization for pediatric cancer research, during the tailgates of MSU’s Homecoming game on October 16.
The first meeting was held in the basement of Mason hall, and Durak is looking forward to future meetings where students are encouraged to bring in their cookies and share recipes. Their next big event will be a Cookie Formal, which they plan to have in November. Durak said this idea originated from a Facebook message requesting to have a more ‘formal’ event.
“It’s going to be like a cocktail party, but with cookies,” he said. “It’s just a way for people to socialize, get dressed up, have fun, and maybe do a little dancing and stuff.”
Facebook: MSU Cookie Eating Club
Ever heard of the British television show Dr. Who? Well I hadn’t either, but there are quite a few MSU fans and members of the United Nerdy Inter-Temporal Travelers, or UNIT, who get together every Monday to watch Dr. Who episodes. This adventurous, and often times comedic, science-fiction series began in 1963, and centers around the precarious travels of the Doctor, who is an alien from a race of people called the Time Lords. He travels through time and space in a 1950s British police box with his human companions, trying to solve problems that he often creates. Although the show was canceled for 16 years beginning in 1989, it picked up again in 2005 and is now on its 11th actor to play the Doctor. With the show’s extended history and multiple actors playing the protagonist and his companions, the UNIT members never run out of episodes to discuss or characters to analyze.
As complex as the show may seem to those who did not know it existed, UNIT President Mark Vorenkamp explains that there are many members of the club that he had ‘roped in’ two years ago who knew nothing about it.
“There were a lot of people at Sparticipation wearing Dr. Who shirts who were incredibly enthusiastic about seeing that there was actually a Dr. Who club,” said UNIT council member and physics senior Jeremy Levine.
Levine became a fan in 2005 when his father introduced the show during its revival, and Vorenkamp watched the Dr. Who movie in ’96, which was supposed to jumpstart the new series, but never did. He forgot about it until 2006, when he watched a random episode from a friend’s DVD collection.
“After I watched the episode, I grabbed all of the DVDs and watched them over the course of about five days,” said Vorenkamp. Having gone to college, Vorenkamp hoped to find people who shared his passion, however he did not know of anyone other than himself who watched it. He then introduced the show to the five people he met and started UNIT with, and the members that followed were added through Sparticipation or they knew one of the founders (all except Vorenkamp have graduated). Currently there are about 15 members who attend the meetings.
There may be some secret Dr. Who fans around campus that are unaware of the club. According to Levine, if you’ve ever seen phrases such as ‘don’t blink’ or ‘turn left’ written in chalk around campus, they are old Dr. Who references.
“We would really like to know who is writing them,” said Levine. “Some awesome person is writing these and we have no idea who it is!” Vorenkamp said it could be one of his members, but no one has confessed. For now this mystery remains unsolved, but stay tuned because it could be solved at the next meeting.
UNIT meets every Monday in room 307 of Bessey Hall.
Although there may not be any new Harry Potter novels to be sold at Barnes and Noble, or new movies to watch after next year, the Harry Potter legacy will live on through the nationally competitive Quidditch phenomena. While most Harry Potter fans have probably heard of MSU’s Quidditch team, most do not know how popular the sport has become. MSU Quidditch Club Headmaster/President anthropology junior Bailey Reidinger joined the team last year after seeing a Facebook post from one of her friends.
“I tried to start one here the year before, but it really hadn’t taken off,” Reidinger said. “But I knew of the possibilities of Muggle Quidditch, and I knew that it would not only be a lot of fun, but sort of hilarious, which are all things I’m a fan of.”
The club quickly became an attraction for Harry Potter fans and athletes, and required the formation of four sub-teams to accommodate the players.
A Muggle Quidditch game, for those who don’t know, requires a team of seven players: three chasers, one keeper, two beaters, and a seeker. The chasers are responsible for passing a volley ball, known as the Quaffle, and attempting to score points by throwing it through one of the opponent’s three, vertical hoops. The keeper acts as a goalie, and the beaters are responsible for knocking out opposing players with dodge balls, called Bludgers. The seeker’s job is to catch the Golden Snitch, who is a player dressed in all yellow carrying a tennis ball in a sock in their back pocket. The seeker must grab the sock containing the tennis ball without touching the snitch runner. On top of all this, the players are running around with broomsticks between their legs.
The team is currently gearing up for their next match at the University of Michigan on November 7, and is also looking forward to the World Cup in New York City on the November 13 and 14. The World Cup tournament is hosted by the International Quidditch Association and involves around 60 teams from all over the country. The team is working on fundraising for special, $60 brooms from a store called Allivans, which are similar to the Firebolt brooms from the book series. These brooms are required to officially participate in these tournaments.
“It’s a full body contact sport, but it is more fun than anything else because you really have to look at the other team and laugh because it is not very intimidating to run down a field with a broom between your legs,” said Reidinger.
With quirky clubs such as these, MSU’s stigma of a large campus filled with strangers suddenly diminishes for new students. Search long enough and you’ll find someone who shares your passion for baked goods or love of all things related to Harry Potter. If you haven’t found that niche, maybe it’s time for you to start a quirky club of your own.
To start your own club or organization at MSU, visit http://www.studentlife.msu.edu and click on the Current Students tab.