SPB takes a trip to Hogwarts

Ashley Pelletier and Toyloy Brown III

California-based comedian Feraz Ozel performed his stand-up at Quinnipiac’s On The Rocks Bar. (Connor Lawless)

The first week back from winter break can be a drag for even the most dedicated student. With a week of “Harry Potter”-themed events, the Student Programming Board welcomed every witch and wizard in the Quinnipiac University community back to campus.

Jaylene Guerra, a sophomore marketing major and SPB’s marketing chair, said that the SPB e-board knew right away that “Harry Potter” was the perfect theme for the week.

“If I recall correctly, there actually weren’t ever any other plans,” Guerra said. “The brainstorming process had just begun, and we stuck with our first thought.”

In the past few years, J.K. Rowling, author of the “Harry Potter” series, has come under fire for inflammatory comments against transgender women. However, Guerra said she thinks “Harry Potter” has grown beyond its origins.

“I think as a whole since “Harry Potter” has such a well-established community of fans, most people have separated the art from the author,” Guerra said.

The first event of the week was “Accio Energy,” a pickup event where students could go to the SPB suite in the Carl Hansen Student Center and pick up energy drinks and other sugar-filled elixirs.

On Tuesday, SPB’s weekly trivia game had questions about “Harry Potter” and prizes that related to the series.

Wednesday night, students had the opportunity to make their own wands, bookmarks and “remembralls,” a gift that character Neville Longbottom receives in “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.”

The highlight of the week was “Crucio Comedy Night” on Jan. 27, featuring comedian Feraz Ozel at On The Rocks. SPB gave a couple of lucky attendees prizes such as a “Harry Potter” Lego set and a blanket.

Ozel, who is based in California, came to Quinnipiac to bring his sense of humor to a place he had never been to and acknowledged the respect he was given by his audience.

“I like bringing laughs to different areas,” Ozel said. “Everybody was attentive and listening … but one thing I really appreciated was, everybody (not paying attention) had the common decency to be like ‘we’re not trying to listen to this guy’ and leave.”

Tamara Anderson, a third-year in the MAT program, attended the show with friends and was happy she saw something new at Quinnipiac.

“I think it was good to bring (comedy) to the community and allow (us) to see something different that we haven’t had in a while,” Anderson said.

Paige Pezzella, SPB’s vice president of membership and a sophomore English and media studies double major, booked the comedy event in October when she attended the National Association for Campus Activities conference in Hartford. At NACA, she saw Ozel perform his comedy routine.

“I just thought that he seemed like a really down-to-earth guy, but also, I really enjoyed his jokes and I thought that he would just be a great person to have at the school,” Pezzella said.

Ozel is an Afghani-Pakistani American and some of his material is related to his race and how others perceive his background based on his appearance. He said he’s been told he looks like a terrorist and has been assumed to be Mexican, likely due to what he described as his “El Chapo- esque” mustache.

“What stood out to me was that he was able to provide a bit of comic relief to everyday things we might see, such as racial profiling,” said Deja Banner, a junior behavioral neuroscience major. “Just like how he could divert that and use that as a joke, I thought that was pretty cool.”

Ozel intentionally designed his comedy routine to fit a crowd of mostly college students and was told by SPB that he could do some risqué material.

“I cater it a bit to the college audience,” Ozel said. “I was told that you guys can handle a little more edgy stuff than other colleges.”

Ozel joked about his experimentation with drugs with his friends and his time studying abroad in Spain while in college. He also impersonated the artist Eminem’s rapping style and fielded topic suggestions on what his freestyle raps should be about.

“I’ve never heard a comedian ever mimic a rapper or somebody like that and to be honest it was pretty good,” Anderson said.

Mackenzie Orlov, SPB’s late-night chair and first-year physical therapy major, said that the event went well and complimented Ozel’s ability to engage the audience.

“Overall, the event was definitely a really big success, the people who did come seem to really enjoy his jokes,” Orlov said. “He did a really good job at kind of getting the audience involved in asking questions, and making sure that the jokes he was making were things that people our age could relate to.”

SGA President Nick Ciampanelli appreciated that Ozel’s stand-up routine was heavily influenced by his own life.

“He was telling it from his own story, his own perspective and just communicating his own lived experiences naturally,” Ciampanelli said.

The last event of the week was a QU classic — bingo. Bingo is consistently one of SPB’s most popular events, but because of the snowstorm that started on Friday night, attendance was lower than usual.

Sasha Karzhevsky, a first-year undeclared communications major, said that the weather was one of the reasons she decided to spend the night playing bingo. To her, fewer people going meant a higher likelihood of winning a prize.

“‘It’s a Friday night, the snow is coming so I’m not going out,’” Karzhevsky said. “I also really like bingo.”

However, the cafe still was buzzing with magic as students vied to win prizes, including box sets of the “Harry Potter” books and movies, AirPods and a Yogibo bean bag chair.

While e-board members like Pezzella planned the logistics for their individual events, Guerra and SPB President Shannon Flaherty were the heart of the theme.

“Most of the events were created by (Flaherty) and me during the (NACA) conference,” Guerra said. “Once all the other e-board members were given a day and event to oversee, everything was given its own flair by them.”