For many students, colleges and universities are more than just stuffy stepping stones full of study that one must cross on the way to a lucrative, lifelong career. In fact, the majority of college students across the US are involved in a wide range of completely optional extracurricular activities from volunteer work to athletics to fraternity beer pong tournaments. Students are also free to start their own sponsored clubs, and while many such clubs are just an extension of a particular academic program (like a Computer Club or Accounting Association, for example), others are simply strange organizations that are centered around off-the-wall activities that no sane human being should be dedicating their precious limited time toward.
9. The Quidditch Club, Various Colleges
Ah, Harry Potter; one of most beloved and most read series of fantasy novels in the history of fiction that is enjoyed the world over as more and more adults are getting lost within the simplistic world of Potter than the children the books are aimed at. While the novels themselves are mostly derivative and clichÃ¨d rehashes of the giants of fantasy who have come before, there is one unique idea: the sport of Quidditch. At its base, the sport is a cross-breed between basketball and dodgeball that consists of two teams of wizards who ride magical flying brooms around an arena attempting to pitch a ball through their opponents’ rings at either end of the field. Despite not having the ability to fly and despite the sport being entirely fictional with few rules, students at many colleges nationwide have assembled Quidditch clubs and teams in order to play the sport on a regular basis. And yes, even while being hopelessly tethered to terra firma in the real world, the collegiate players do still use ordinary, totally non-magical brooms, ridiculously tucked between their legs as they run around the field in an audacious display of dorkitude. Remember, these are technically adults.
8. Ichidan Live Theatre & Cosplay, Boise State University
The Ichidan Live Theatre group was born as a club at Boise State University and today is a respectable troupe of actors who tour the country putting on unique stage shows at various conventions and festivals. What’s so strange about a traveling troupe of actors you say? Well, this particular company of actors is really into Japanese pop culture, thus all of their performances are based on popular anime series, manga books, and video games and by “based on”, we mean they literally take Japanese cartoons and turn them into live action for the stage. They have staged original exhibitions inspired by such titles as Full Metal Alchemist, Kingdom Hearts, and Rurouni Kenshin but have yet to explore the crowd-pleasing hentai and tentacle rape genres that are so prominent in certain Japanese pop culture circles.
7. Students for an Orwellian Society, Columbia University
George Orwell’s classic novel 1984 depicted a dystopian future corrupted and managed in totality by an all-seeing, malefic government entity. It was a bleak vision that provided readers with a different point of view of authority and insight into the potential motivations and dangers of big government; things that a population should clearly fear and work to prevent. However, a club formed in 2001 at Columbia University called The Students for an Orwellian Society actively campaign to bring into reality Orwell’s dark future of doublespeak and gray color palettes. The SOS often post fliers around the campus using Newspeak (the dumb-downed government language used in 1984) to call attention to and satirize current events or express a particular message in their own unique way. As with anything intended to be purely satirical but is really too intellectual for its own good, most people often end up taking the fliers seriously which seems to defeat the overall message the SOS promotes in the first place. But what else are college students supposed to do, go to class?
6. MIT Assassins Guild, MIT
One of the most ominously named collegiate clubs to exist, The MIT Assassins Guild actually couldn’t be further from the image of a cloak and dagger organization consisting of stealthy state sponsored hitmen that the name conjures up. In fact, the Guild is actually a club made up of individuals (read: nerds) who enjoy a little known and dubious hobby called Live-Action Roleplaying where each “player” assumes the identity of a made-up character, such as a space captain or elf wizard, and along with the rest of the players, creates a fantasy world and lives as their character in that world for anywhere from a few hours to ten days. It’s kind of like living inside a video game without the video, or the game.
5. Club Kramerica, University of Illinois
In the 1990s, one of the greatest TV shows ever made hit the airwaves and gained a fan following that remains strong to this day. Seinfeld, the show about nothing, was one of those programs that everyone loves because of its wacky story lines, silly characters and highly quotable lines. While for most people the show was a fun diversion now firmly entrenched in the bygone era of 90s television, for Paul Holze, a sophomore at the University of Illinois, it was an obsession. Paul loved the show so much, he decided to form a legitimate college club dedicated to everything Seinfeld for other fanatics to share in. However, the club’s vision is more complex and sweeping than simply getting together to watch old episodes for the 100th time. Since its formation, the club has used themes from Seinfeld to spice up otherwise tired and bland occasions on campus such as holding a black and white cookie bake sale, celebrating Festivus, and adopting sections of campus as a parallel to Kramer’s involvement with the adopt-a-highway program. We’re just thankful Paul isn’t a fan of Jersey Shore.
4. The Quill and the Sword, Brigham Young University
The Quill and the Sword is one of the longest running student organizations on the campus of BYU and is dedicated to “creative anachronism”, or in other words, medieval reenactments like those seen at Renaissance faires. More accurately, the club is centered on the European Dark Ages of 1,000 years ago and is composed of a number different guilds each focused on a particular aspect of human life during that time period, e.g., cooking, music, and fighting. The club generally act as if they are really in the Dark Ages by dressing up in period costumes, holding mutton-fueled feasts complete with serving girls, and remaining in character as much as possible. Any organization that encourages its members to use the word “wench” liberally and gives one an excuse to wear bulging codpieces and tight medieval bodices is alright with us.
3. Campus People Watchers, University of Minnesota
Have you ever been out people watching and thought, “Boy, I wish there were more people out there like me who enjoy watching other people so we could watch people together”? No, we haven’t either. But evidently there are students at the University of Minnesota who very much enjoy hanging around watching other students go about their daily lives, so much so they actually formed an official club to do just that. The “non-creepy”, totally creepy organization take field trips to areas of Minneapolis and other college campuses to indulge in their unique hobby of peeping at passersby, not for profit of course. What we’d like to know though is: who watches the People Watchers?
2. The Harvard Tiddlywinks Society, Harvard University
Tiddlywinks, the classic children’s game of popping small, plastic, colored discs into flight to ultimately land inside a cup, has been played by incredibly bored youths since the 1800s. Since the advent of video games, computers and the internet, Tiddlywinks has just about died out in recent years but some still cling to the satisfying sounds of squidging and squopping those little discs. The Harvard Tiddlywinks Society organizes and fields an official Tiddlywinks athletic team to play competitively against other teams from colleges like Cambridge and MIT. If you didn’t think a game like Tiddlywinks could be played competitively, well, you’re probably right, but that doesn’t stop the oversized children at Harvard from trying. What’s next, a Hungry Hungry Hippos World Championship?
1. Rock-Paper-Scissors Club, Various Colleges
Yes, there is more than one college organization dedicated to one of the most straightforward and dull “games” ever created. While it’s understandable that a sport from a very popular series of novels would gain a bit of a following, it baffles the mind that there are people out there who actually believe Rock-Paper-Scissors can be played competitively despite it being just a glorified version of One Potato, Two Potato. Students at the University of Kentucky even take it one step further by claiming to study the non-existent strategy behind RPS and “incorporate RPS play in our daily lives to further enhance ourselves, our community, and the world at large.” When high powered business moguls, world leaders and government officials start making important daily decisions based on Rock-Paper-Scissors, we can go ahead and kiss society good-bye at that point.