Unconventional clubs to check out this fall

Meara Isenberg

From sports clubs to religion clubs, there are plenty of ways to get involved on UT’s campus. But what about a “Harry Potter”-themed service organization or a club that meets up to eat at Austin restaurants together? Yup, UT has those, too.

With about 1,200 student organizations on campus, there’s no shortage of unconventional clubs to choose from.

Claire Norris, president of Keep Austin Wizard, said she initially joined the organization as a fan of the “Harry Potter” books, but quickly realized there was more to the club than just discussing the series.

“It’s not just a fan club about ‘Harry Potter,’ it’s also an opportunity to do volunteering and community service and work on actual issues,” ​said Norris, a radio-television-film senior. “That’s something that’s become a lot more interesting to me.”

By tabling with “butterbeer,” a drink straight out of the books made with cream soda, caramel and whipped cream, Norris said the club raises money for organizations that promote literacy and education in Austin.

While the club currently has about five members, according to Norris, the smaller group size does not keep the team from volunteering at places such as the Inside Books Project, which promotes literacy and education within the Texas prison system by mailing books to prisoners.

Also uniting students with a specific interest, the Texas Fly Fishing Club was started last spring to help students bond over fishing with artificial fly bait, club president Riley Carew said.

“Fly Fishing is a much more difficult way of fishing,” said Carey, an international relations and global studies senior. “Instead of casting with one fluid stroke, you have to build up your cast with the line, going back and forth with the fly … and place it in the exact spot where you want it for the fish to bite.”

Carew said the group currently is made up of about 25 men but is open to anyone to join. 

Also available for students to join this fall, Coders Across Disciplines is meant to bring students from schools across campus together to learn more about how coding fits into their specific fields, club president Carl Karouta said.

While the club includes STEM majors, chemical engineering senior Karouta said it also brings in students from other majors such as economics and linguistics.

“Some people are interested in natural language processing, (which is) how companies like Google and others will interpret your speech and process that natural kind of speech to literally (form) words out of it,” Karouta said. “That’s what linguists care about, but it’s also a heavy software application.”

Another group on campus is bringing students together using the ultimate unifier: food. The Dinner Club, founded by advertising senior John Parker, is a club that meets up at new and classic restaurants around Austin.

Parker said the club usually sees around seven people show up to eat and has checked out eateries such as Hula Hut, Lucky Robot and Blue Dahlia Bistro. Through sitting down and enjoying a meal, Parker said he has seen students from different backgrounds get to know each other.

“It’s meant to be kind of relaxing, and a space for people to meet each other,” Parker said. “(Food) gives you something to share and talk about, and conversation just goes from there.”