Bringing the Harry Potter Yule Ball to RIT

Student Spotlight
Alex Walcutt, second-year computer science

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Alex Walcutt, a second-year computer science student, is founder and president of Dumbledore’s Army at RIT. The club will host the Harry Potter-themed Yule Ball on Jan. 28 to benefit the Harry Potter Alliance and Doctors Without Borders.

Alex Walcutt is combining charity work at RIT with the magical world of Harry Potter. Dumbledore’s Army at RIT invites students to experience a muggle version of the classic Yule Ball in Hogwarts Castle. The Butterbeer will be flowing at the ball presented by College Activities Board, 8 p.m.–12 a.m. Jan. 28 in Fireside Lounge.

Question: Where are you from?
Answer: I’m from Odenton, Md. If you make a triangle with Annapolis, Washington, D.C., and Baltimore, Odenton is dead center.

Q: Why did you decide to come to RIT?
A: The great computer science program and the student community that embraces its own nerdiness. Most of all, I just felt comfortable here.

Q: What’s something that most people wouldn’t know about you when they first meet you?
A: I love the outdoors. I’ve been stalked by a mountain lion while backpacking in New Mexico, I’ve slept between the clearest water and the clearest sky on a sailboat in the Florida Keys and I’ve been knocked from a raft while navigating rapids.

Q: What types of things are you involved in around campus?
A: I am president of Dumbledore’s Army on campus and I’m an active member of Computer Science House.

Q: For those who may not know what Dumbledore’s Army is, explain it.
A: We are a university chapter of the Harry Potter Alliance. The mission of the HPA is to utilize themes from Harry Potter to educate and engage youths in important social issues. Here at RIT we raise money for charities, collect cans for Foodlink, discuss social issues including starvation wages and child slavery in the African chocolate industry and host fun Harry Potter-related events on campus.

Q: How did you come up with Dumbledore’s Army?
A: John Green, my favorite author, inspired me while I was searching for a way to make a difference. One morning last March, I sent a Facebook message to my friend Gretchen Raffensberger proposing the idea to start the club and it snowballed from there.

Q: What is the Yule Ball (coming up Jan. 28)?
A: The Yule Ball is a semi-formal dance, held in Fireside Lounge, partially based on the event with the same name in the Harry Potter books. There will be music, dancing, a fair-trade chocolate fondue cauldron, Butterbeer and an area where people can play board games and take a break from the dance floor. The best part is that all proceeds benefit charity!

Q: How much are tickets for the Yule Ball?
A: Tickets are $10 for a single and $16 for couples. Tickets can be purchased Monday through Thursday next week in the Student Alumni Union lobby from 1–3 p.m. They will also be sold at the door.

Q: What charities will the Yule Ball support?
A: We will split the proceeds between two charities. Twenty percent of proceeds will go to the Harry Potter Alliance. While we are a chapter of the Harry Potter Alliance, a donation to them will in no way benefit us directly. The rest will go to Doctors Without Borders—a secular, non-governmental organization that provides medical aid to people around the globe whose survivability is threatened.

Q: Any advice you would give to other RIT students?
A: Get involved! This advice may be the biggest cliché and somewhat self-serving, but it’s the best advice.

Scott Bureau covers student affairs for University News. Contact him at with “Student Spotlight” suggestions.