New Haven’s eyes will be on The Game this coming weekend, but the rest of the country will be focused on The Movie. Nope, not 50-Cent’s quasi-bio “Get Rich Or Die Tryin’,” creatively named after his last album, but rather “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.”
For the “muggles” who have only seen the movies but never read the books, the fourth installment of J.K. Rowling’s all-world bestseller will simply reveal what happens next. For the die-hard fans, a number of more specific questions will be answered: What will it be like to see the Quidditch World Cup on the silver screen? Who will be the face of Lord Voldemort? Should we feel guilty for thinking Hermione is hot? The answers: kickass, Ralph Fiennes and not anymore.
But for Yalies, “Goblet” will bring up another set of questions. It’s no secret that Yale and Hogwarts have a lot in common — the best way to explain the residential college system to a stranger is to simply say, “It’s like Harry Potter.” So which college is Gryffindor? Which faculty member is Dumbledore? Where does Annette the Ruthless fit into all of this? Clearly an explanation is in order.
At the beginning of “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,” the Sorting Hat sings, “You might belong in Gryffindor / Where dwell the brave at heart / Their daring, nerve, and bravery set Gryffindors apart.”
Every Yalie seems to have a reason why his or her college is Gryffindor. The problem is, many of these justifications are nonspecific or just lame: “We have a lot of good people!” or “We have heart!” are some of the more common explanations. Still, it’s fairly clear which three colleges bear the closest resemblance to Harry Potter’s own hall.
With its lion-covered clothing and tight-knit community spirit, Timothy Dwight is an easy choice. Branford, in all its idyllic collegiate Gothic glory, gets the nod because it’s the college everyone wants to be in after Bulldog Days. Pierson edges Saybrook for the final slot because of the daring, nerve and bravery exhibited by the Piersonites who pulled off the greatest prank in the history of sports at last year’s Game — the “We Suck” heard ’round the world.
Hufflepuffs are determined, hard-working and very proud of their home, even though it’s clearly second-tier. The Yale equivalent should be “colleges that try really hard, but no one eats in their dining halls because they all want to go to places like Branford and Berkeley,” Rebecca Blum ’07 said.
Trumbull doesn’t even have a dining hall anymore, so its selection is a no-brainer. Morse’s ivy-retardant surfaces clearly embody the ethos of Hufflepuff, as does Calhoun’s homey-but-homely ambience.
But most Yalies in these colleges express displeasure at being Hufflepuffified and offer alternative parallels.
“Okay, so we’re not Gryffindor,” Calhoun Master Jonathan Holloway said. “I can live with that. [But] Hufflepuff? Isn’t that something akin to being made to slow dance at a bar mitzvah with a friend’s second cousin you’ve never met when all you really want to do is trade Pokemon cards? I do think given the state of our basement or sub-basement that [a comparison to] Diagon Alley might be appropriate. Lots of strange spaces down there — some of them magical, to be sure, but others just plain creepy.”
Slytherin produces the largest number of dark wizards of any Hogwarts house. And it sounds a lot like Silliman. But don’t worry Sillimanders, your college would never produce a Voldemort. Can you imagine Draco Malfoy and company sponsoring the Safety Dance? I think not.
“Slytherin should be associated with elitism,” Andrew Beaty ’07 said. “Therefore, Slytherin is Berkeley. Also, Davenport has legacies such as George W. Bush, so I think that counts as Slytherin.”
Davenport, which once was a cesspool of “pureblood” aristocrats, and Berkeley, that bastion of culinary bigotry, are easy choices. Ezra Stiles takes the third slot because it has a reputation as an intramural powerhouse, which puts it in the same league as Gryffindor’s Quidditch-obsessed archrivals.
Although Ravenclaw is known for its witty literary types, it also houses the students who simply dodge the other three stereotypes, as do Yale’s Ravenclaw counterparts. Silliman is too laid back to be Slytherin, but it’s still too sibilant to be Gryffindor.
Saybrook is almost as pretty as Branford, almost as daring as Pierson and almost as brave as TD. But almost does not a Gryffindor make.
Jonathan Edwards rounds out the Ravenclaws. “But wait,” you may ask, “If ‘JE Sux,’ then why isn’t it Hufflepuff?” Because Hufflepuff would never admit that it sucks.
In a university with a population of over 5,000 students, it is difficult to pick out individuals everyone knows. However, Yale needs a Harry Potter, and conveniently has one: former Yale College Council President Andrew Cedar ’06.
“I totally don’t know him personally,” said Brock Forsblom ’07. “But he was on support crew for my FOOT trip. They showed up and gave us blueberries or something, and all we could talk about was how much he looked like Harry Potter … It was awesome!”
Though many upperclassmen may look back on Dean Brodhead as Yale’s old Dumbledore, most Elis agree Dean Salovey’s keen wit and enlightened leadership make him the new equivalent of Hogwarts’ popular headmaster.
“I’m very flattered by the analogy with Dumbledore,” Salovey said. “Indeed I have tried to emulate his management style. And I know that Yale is really Hogwarts — one of my very first meetings as a new dean last year was with Harry Potter himself. He said his name was Andrew Cedar, but I know it was really Harry.”
One of Hogwarts’ most prominent faculty members, Professor McGonagall is a tough, no-nonsense disciplinarian. But she has a lighter side as well. Her Yale counterpart is clearly Betty Trachtenberg, the Dean of Student Affairs.
“She knows how to get stuff done,” Olivia Haesloop ’06 said. “She’s all business on the outside, but when you get to know her she’s actually pretty funny.”
Known for tormenting students with laborious homework assignments while cooking up sinister potions in class, Snape seems like a textbook Orgo professor.
“Snape’s Yale analogue is most definitely Professor Frederick Ziegler,” Mark Fisher ’07 said. “Infamous for his tacit encouragement of competition among his more elite students, so I hear, he seems the most likely candidate to have invented high-level, malicious organic chemistry reactions in the margins of his college text book.”
The apparition that pesters Harry Potter and friends during their nocturnal adventures has an obvious analogue in New Haven. Who lurks in the shadows by night, waiting to pounce on and harass any wayward student? Who follows you, babbling ill-tempered nonsense, screaming vague threats until you reach the safety of your college gate? The Poetry Lady. Perhaps Yale should find its own Bloody Baron to keep her in check.
The Fat Lady
The Fat Lady is just one of a cast of portraits that inhabit the paintings of Hogwarts’ halls. She serves the particular function of opening the door to Gryffindor once the proper password has been recited. Berkeley has already been established as Slytherin and Annette is far from fat, but this infamous gatekeeper holds the key to epicurean satisfaction at Yale.
“She’d be like one of the silly paintings who does basically the same thing every time you see her, but with some variation,” Cutter Rolles ’07 said. “Once you know the password — i.e. sweet-talk her until she forgets you’re not in Berkeley, then convince her you are
in Berkeley — you get your way.”
Now that most of the main characters in “Harry Potter” have been covered, you’re probably wondering about the Yale equivalent of J.K. Rowling’s arch-villain, Lord Voldemort. The easy and partisan answer would be George W. Bush ’68, a Davenport/Slytherin alumnus who has polarized the country along ideological lines and is arguably the most powerful man in the world.
But there is one problem: Unlike our Commander-in-Chief, the Dark Lord is known for his keen intellect. Yale’s Voldemort should be someone more devious, more cunning, more … Harvard. That’s right: Larry Summers. So when you crowd into the Yale Bowl this weekend, just remember that you’re cheering on the Elis against the very essence of evil (and misogyny).