The Carolina Quidditch team plays outside Cobbwarts, an event hosted in Cobb Dorm by the Residence Hall Association on April 6, 2019. "So there's this Cobbwarts event going on and, you know, of all the people on campus, we really like Harry Potter," said Sam Nielsen (63), a junior economics and computer science major.
A makeshift brick wall painted on a white tarp hung from the ceiling of Cobb Residence Hall Saturday afternoon. As visitors passed through a slit in the tarp and entered the lobby, a nearby sign informed told them they had crossed through Platform 9 ¾ – they were in Cobbwarts now.
Cobbwarts, a Harry Potter-themed event, is one of the many community programs sponsored by the Residence Hall Association during this year’s RHA Week. Although resident advisers sponsor smaller events throughout the semester, RHA Week occurs annually each spring, and programming is bigger and open to the public.
Cobb RA Courtney Kitson helped organize Cobbwarts. She said the event is a beloved Cobb tradition, and she enjoys watching people attend.
“I just like seeing people come alive and be really excited about Harry Potter, and to see all the closet fans come out,” Kitson said. “There are people here that brought their own robes and scars, and I am living.”
The name “Cobbwarts” is a pun on Hogwarts, the school attended by the main characters in the popular Harry Potter book series, which tells the story of a young wizard. Students and members of the Chapel Hill community who attended Cobbwarts found no shortage of ways to immerse themselves in the wizarding world of Harry Potter.
For those who did not bring their own wizardry robes, the event’s organizers provided costumes and an area to take pictures with cardboard cutouts of characters from the series. Cobb’s lobby was filled with food from the books, such as pumpkin pasties, Bertie Botts’ Every Flavour Beans and Butterbeer. Attendees could also interact with live owls, a common pet among Hogwarts students.
For UNC student Andrew Knudsen, the best part of Cobbwarts was a spell-themed memory game. Knudsen is a longtime Harry Potter fan.
“I came because I love Harry Potter,” Knudsen said. “I grew up on Harry Potter. I read all the books, seen all the movies.”
Cobbwarts’ attendees could also play Harry Potter trivia, paint their own wands and write letters with a quill and ink. RAs created a Quidditch-themed cornhole game, and members of UNC’s own Quidditch team played a match outside of the residence hall.
For Cobb residents, playing these games took on a more competitive edge. Each of Cobb’s floors was assigned to one of Hogwarts’ four residential houses: Gryffindor, Slytherin, Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff. By participating, they won tickets for their house and competed to win The House Cup, a prize from the book series.
Wesley Leonhardt, a member of RHA’s Community Government, became a Harry Potter fan three weeks ago when he began doing research to help plan the event. Leonhardt said RHA Week is an important way of giving thanks to students because they fund the organization with their student fees.
“Pretty much, Co-Go (Community Government) is for the residents, to give back, to provide a little break from studying and have fun,” Leonhardt said. “And it’s also really important for residents to get to know each other, and Co-Go really helps bring residents out of their rooms and to events to help get to know each other.”